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ICE Agents Claim Napolitano Forcing Them to Violate U.S. Law–New Immigration Directives Invitation to Terrorists and Cartels

 

DHS Secretary Napolitano sued by ICE agents

DHS Secretary Napolitano sued by ICE agents

Been on the road, folks. Lots of airports, long security lines, plastic bins — shoes, coat, watch, laptop, any liquids? Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“What do you do?” the fellow at U.S. immigration asks.

“Write about you guys.”

He looks up.

“How’s it going?” I ask. “You know, with the new boss. Napolitano?”

One look is still worth a thousand words.

“Watch out,” he says, his eyes moving over my right shoulder. “She’s standing right over there…”

I jump. Look. He smiles and stamps my passport.

“You know the worst thing?” he says. “We’re making it up as we go along. Everyday there’s something new we’re supposed to be on the lookout for. It’s all arbitrary.”

I know what he means, and I know why I jumped. Staying alive at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a full-time occupation. One slip-up, the chain quivers, the blame starts its downward flow, and if you’re an agent, you’re pulling duty in Pembina, ND, or spending the rest of your working life doodling on a yellow legal pad in an empty room at HQ/DC.

So believe me when I tell you that it takes more than a fit of pique to file a legal complaint against DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, as the National Ice Council has done on behalf of eleven agents who believe that recent policy directives on prosecutorial discretion and the DREAM directive on deferred action are forcing them to choose between enforcing immigration and deportation laws passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996 and their professional careers.

Chris Crane ICEChristopher Crane, head of the council, reports that agents who continue to enforce laws currently on the books — ignoring policy directives from the top instructing them neither to apprehend, arrest, or depart aliens who’ve entered the U.S. illegally or who’ve overstayed their visas (even illegals serving time in U.S. prisons for felonies and misdemeanors) — are targets for disciplinary action.

From the complaint filed by the National Ice Council against Napolitano, August 23, 2012 in U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas Dallas Division:

ICE Plaintiffs reasonably fear, based upon official communications to them, their knowledge of communications to Plaintiff Doebler, Plaintiff Martin, and Plaintiff Crane from their superiors, past events, and public sources, that if they follow the requirements of federal law, contrary to the “Directive,” and arrest an alien or issue an alien an Notice to Appear (NTA) in removal proceedings, they will be disciplined or suffer other adverse employment consequences. Plaintiff James D. Doebler arrested an alien who was unlawfully present in the United States and issued the alien an NTA, contrary to the general directions of his supervisors that he should decline to issue NTAs to certain illegal aliens. Plaintiff Doebler was issued a Notice of Proposed Suspension. Plaintiff Doebler is facing a three-day suspension for arresting and processing the alien for a hearing rather than exercising the “prosecutorial discretion” commanded by his supervisors. Plaintiff Doebler requested a written directive ordering him not to issue the NTA. His supervisors have refused to give him a written directive and would not sign any paperwork authorizing the use of “prosecutorial discretion.” Plaintiff Doebler reasonably fears, based on his past experience, that if he follows the requirements of federal law, contrary to the “Directive,” and arrests an alien or issues the alien an NTA, he will be disciplined again. He reasonably fears that a second disciplinary action will result in the loss of his job.

There’s more:

On July 17, 2012, Plaintiff Samuel Martin, along with another immigration enforcement agent, picked up an illegal alien from the El Paso County Jail. While the agents were trying to place the alien in the vehicle, the alien attempted to escape, and resisted and assaulted Plaintiff Martin and his colleague. The agents regained custody of the alien and transported him to the El Paso Criminal Alien Program office for processing. Plaintiff Martin’s supervisors ordered him to release the alien without any charges being filed against the alien and ordered Plaintiff Martin not to issue an NTA. The agents who were present protested the release of the alien; but they were told “it was a management decision, based on the President’s new immigration policies.” No supervisor ever asked the agents if they were injured or if they needed assistance. It is the understanding of Plaintiff Martin, reflected in his signed statement concerning the incident, that his supervisors gave him these orders based on the Directive.

This is a big deal. Why? Because the backlash against Crane and his colleagues tells me the other side is worried.

From David Leopold, past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, published August 3, 2012, in the Huffington Post:

The last I checked federal bureaucrats are supposed to implement the administration’s policies, not publicly obstruct them. So why is Christopher Crane, President of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council — the union of 7,000 immigration agents, officers, and employees — engaging in a pattern of open insubordination designed to thwart the president’s effort to deport dangerous criminal aliens and national security risks?

And Leopold’s not finished,

But where does Crane come off attempting to set administration policy? Since when does the soldier tell the general what to do?

Is this how the president sees himself? As a “general” issuing unquestionable orders to subordinates?

Last time I looked at the U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 1, it seemed to say something pretty important about the separation of powers:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

It’s what we call a “vesting clause,” and it means that Congress, not the President of the United States, enacts federal law as Congress did in 1996 when it passed the immigration laws currently on the books.

Now, Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the same constitution is another vesting clause, again meant to clarify the separation of powers:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.

What does this mean? That it’s the president’s job to ensure that the laws enacted by Congress are enforced.

And here, my friends, is where we run into an argument neither Crane nor Judge Reed O’Connor, the federal judge who just ruled the ICE agents “have standing” in this matter, is ready to abandon: Does the executive or its representatives, Napolitano and Morton, have the constitutional authority to issue directives designed to reinterpret the letter of federal laws enacted by Congress? Are our elected representatives in the House and Senate expected to play “soldiers” — as David Leopold suggests — to Obama’s “general”?

Pay attention.

The argument isn’t ideological. It isn’t about whether it’s “moral” or “practical” to deport or apprehend the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. It isn’t about taking children away from parents or uprooting folks who’ve become hardworking, churchgoing members of the community. The majority of Americans (who, according to the polls, value border security as much as they do a sensible approach to immigration) believe that aliens who’ve made decent, honest lives for themselves should be offered a path to citizenship.

No, the argument is much larger and much more important.

It’s about who has the power to turn laws passed by Congress inside out, to gut statutes still on the books with an eye toward rendering them unenforceable, feeble, token homage to the free will of the citizenry as opposed to the political will of the president.

The ICE agents suing their boss say it’s their job to enforce the law as it is currently and unambiguously set down. If Americans want to change immigration laws, they should communicate that desire to their elected representatives, the men and women they’ve voted into office to speak for them, and Congress should get it done.

But let’s say Congress is not ready to agree on this issue. Frustration reigns. The loyal opposition shouts “Obstruction!”

It’s still not the president’s job to step in, a political Jacques Derrida, deconstructing statutory language on the basis of its inherent “unreliability” — its inability to adequately or actually reflect what he and his constituents believe are the “true” beliefs, values, and desires of America’s citizens.

Sensitive or insensitive, right or wrong, the people have spoken through the U.S. Congress; the DREAM Act has been proposed in Congress two dozen times, and has been voted on by both the House and the Senate.

This is how democracy in the United States works. Not always pretty. Not always fast. And not always, as history has demonstrated, “on the right moral track.” Think slavery. Think suffrage. Think civil rights.

But don’t forget — champs fight fair. Because we understand that when the law goes, when the Constitution becomes irrelevant, America, with all its unresolved problems and promise, will go under as well.

If you lose, shake hands. Don’t change the rules of the game, especially when you think no one is looking.

The DREAM Act has never been passed by both houses of Congress, but its frequent introduction is a clear indication that both Congress and the White House understand that federal legislation, as opposed to the issuance of an executive order or policy directives that aim to reshape the implementation of immigration laws, is required to achieve the act’s objectives.

ICE agents Chris Crane, David Engle, Anastasia Carroll, Ricardo Diaz, Lorenzo Garza, Tre Rebstock, Fernando Silva, Samuel Martin and James Doebler — plaintiffs in Civil Action No. 3:12-ev-03247-O, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division have testified, under oath, that their superiors have ordered them to break the laws they have sworn to uphold.

No one, they say, not the Secretary of DHS or the President of the United States, according to the U.S. Constitution, can twist or bend those laws to prop up an ideological imperative, not matter how high-minded, or a political agenda, no matter how opportune.

Let’s look at some background provided by the complaint filed on behalf of the ICE agents–skip it if the weeds get too high:

  • In 1996 (during the Clinton administration), Congress sought to reduce executive discretion in the enforcement of federal immigration laws — i.e., “Immigration law enforcement is as high a priority as other aspects of Federal law enforcement, and illegal aliens do not have the right to remain in the US undetected and unapprehended.” H.R. Rep. 104-725 (19916), at 383.
  • Enacted in 1996, 8 U.S.C. 1225 (a)(1) provides that “an alien who has not been admitted…shall be deemed for purposes of this chapter an applicant for admission.”
  • 8 U.S.C. 1225(a)(c) provides that all applicants “shall be inspected by immigration officers.”
  • 8 U.S.C. 1225(b)(2)(A) mandates that “if the examining immigration officer determines that an alien seeking admission is not clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted, the alien shall be detained for a proceeding under `229a of this title.”
  • Deferred action [mandated by policy directive under DACA and the DREAM Act] is not specifically authorized anywhere in federal law. Historically, deferred action has been utilized sparsely for small numbers of aliens in discrete distress pending statutory or foreign policy-mandated regulatory changes. No group of aliens has been granted deferred action in the past 15 years that approaches a fraction of the size of the class of aliens subject to the June 15, 2012 DHS directive, “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.”
  • Federal regulations do not authorize the Secretary to grant deferred action wholesale to a large number of aliens.
  • Deferred action, which the attorney for the plaintiffs claims is “a substantive immigration benefit,” may not be conferred as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, but only by regulations promulgated under authority delegated by Congress.
  • By definition, “prosecutorial discretion” cannot be used to confer a substantive benefit.
  • U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) is not a law enforcement agency and has no prosecutorial authority.
  • ICE plaintiffs have each sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the United States.
  • ICE plaintiffs believe that if they follow the Directive, they will be violating their oath of office, as well as violating several laws of the United States.
  • Finally, ICE plaintiffs reasonably fear, based upon official communications to them, from communications directed toward Agents Doebler, Martin and Crane, from superiors, past events, and public sources, that if they follow the requirements of federal law, contrary to the “directive,” and arrest an alien or issue an alien a Notice to Appear (NTA) in removal proceedings, they will be disciplined or suffer other adverse employment consequences.

A lot of legal jargon. But Federal Judge Reed O’Connor seems persuaded.

Not so with DHS and supporters like David Leopold, who contend that Janet Napolitano’s directive does not stop ICE agents from stopping and questioning aliens considered to be suspicious or intent on undermining security. Decide for yourself; Napolitano’s memo is here.

It sounds okay, doesn’t it, with all that talk about “background checks” and deferred action an option only on “a case-by-case basis”?

But ICE agents, as well as Kris W. Kobach, the secretary of state in Kansas, who’s representing them in their lawsuit, have a different and very frightening tale to tell: In the complaint, the agents state they’ve been ordered to ignore an entire category of illegal aliens.

The agents allege they were told to stop requesting proof of citizenship or immigration status.

“Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and her underlings want their agents and officers to just take the word of an illegal alien without verifying his or her statement,” said former police commander David Scher. “It’s as ridiculous as releasing a suspected bank robber who states he didn’t commit the robbery without any verification by police officers,” he said.

New Immigration Policies: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

Now I don’t know about you, but denying agents or cops the right to question people who strike them as suspicious doesn’t seem to jive with David Leopold’s accusation that ICE agent Chris Crane is “engaging in a pattern of insubordination to thwart the President’s effort to deport dangerous criminal aliens and national security risks.”

If you can’t question anyone, if your boss tells you the word of an illegal alien is all you need (scout’s honor), how do you distinguish between the young fellow pursuing a degree in social work at the community college and the 20-something chemistry student mixing up the next big assault on the American people? Or the 19-year-old “mule” covered with gang tattoos who understands that as long as the cocaine isn’t spilling out of his pockets, you can’t touch him — no arrest, no deportation.

Really, tell me. Years ago, I reported on the work of an astute customs agent, Jose Melendez Perez, whose “instincts” told him something was wrong about a passenger trying to enter the U.S. on 8/4/01 with one-way ticket with no luggage. Turns out the authorities believe the passenger was the twentieth 9/11 hijacker on his way to join the gang that tried to commandeer Flight 93, bound, some say, for the capitol. More on him in a bit.

And then there’s this — another “Hail Mary” pass on the part of a customs inspector on our border with Canada in 1999:

In 1999, customs officers in Port Angeles spotted a nervous Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian national who later was convicted on multiple counts for plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. Custom agents found explosives in the trunk of his car when he drove off a ferry from Canada.

Two years earlier, Border Patrol agents arrested Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer in Bellingham. Later on, after a federal judge reduced his bail, Abu Mezer went to New York where he tried to plot an attack on the subway system.

Clearly officials will continue to exercise more initiative on our borders and at U.S. ports, but the question is what do you do when these characters manage to get over the border and through our ports?

Hardball

There are critics who say DHS and the admininstration is not only making a grab to extend executive power at the expense of the legislative branch, but that the consequences of a “kinder, gentler” approach to immigration, yes, at least 11 million votes — an endgame in this “no questions asked, no proof required” attempt to reach out to so many good guys — could be an open invitation to some very bad guys.

The under-thirty kind who promise an inquisitive ICE agent they’re here as students — maybe they overstayed their visas, or maybe they entered the United States under dodgy circumstances — but no criminal priors, no red flags in any of our data banks, and no reason, as the DREAM Act would have us believe, not to believe them.

What they might not be telling us is that they’re in the U.S. enrolled in an aviation school, an outfit that needs the tuition, the kind that let’s you acquire enough hours to take off but not to land.

Enforcement insiders report that under Napolitano’s Directive, Ziad Jarrah, who piloted Boeing 757-222 on thejarrah_painting morning of Sept. 11, 2001, could not have been arrested or deported—even if he’d been apprehended before the event.

True story.

In 2013, DHS border control policies, including the policies governing immigration and deportation, prohibit U.S. federal agents from arresting/deporting an alien solely on the grounds that he or she has entered the U.S. illegally or that he or she has overstayed his or her visa.

Federal agents working for the U.S. government (DHS) may only arrest an illegal alien if that individual has been convicted of committing a crime, a single felony or three misdemeanors.

And here’s the rest of the tale.

The U.S. government (DHS) has told their agents that even the commission of a crime by the alien, the single felony or three misdemeanors, doesn’t automatically sanction deportation—that there are “significant” and “insignificant” crimes, and deportation of an alien convicted of a criminal offense is tied to its definition as one or the other.

Who decides which crimes are significant and which are not?

Murder and rape, says DHS, would most likely be considered significant crimes, but who makes the final determination in each individual case — and how — is unclear.

“Prosecutorial discretion.”

What this means is that federal agents now visit, on a routine basis, illegal aliens doing time in U.S. jails and prisons, only to discover that in too many cases, they are still prohibited by current U.S. (DHS) policy from deporting these lawbreakers and sending them back to their own countries, whether Mexico, Central-South America, Europe or the Mideast.

We know that Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda operatives are living and working in Mexico and points south, cooperating and collaborating with the cartels, money launderers, arms manufacturers and traffickers of every ilk.

We know the southwest border is riddled with drug tunnels, and that ports across the southern U.S., particularly Miami and Los Angeles, are overwhelmed not just by cargo, but by arbitrary policy directives whose priorities — what to look for, what/who to detain — seem to change daily. There are whispers and rumblings about close calls leaking out of these ports, and frustration about risking one’s career for national security or risking security to protect one’s career.

And we know that if even one or two, or let’s say even 19 (the number of 9/11 terrorists), would-be terrorists are currently living in the U.S., even if they entered illegally or they’re here on expired visas, and unless they’re convicted of committing a significant crime, ICE agents can’t do much about it.

You don’t have to be Einstein to figure the odds.

Let’s scroll back to the U.S. before 911, and come at this from a different angle.

Yes, it’s that important

There are Feds who tell me that if the same immigration/deportation policies ICE agents are told they must observe today had been in place when the 9/11 terrorists were living, training and planning the attack in the United States, on student or expired visas — even if one had been apprehended during an attempt to pass through a U.S. port illegally, as authorities believe was the case on August 4, 2001, with Muhammed al-Kahtani, the suspected ‘20th 911 hijacker’ I mentioned earlier — ICE or Customs/Immigration agents would not have been permitted to arrest or deport them.

They had not yet committed any crimes.

Don’t believe me?

You’re not alone.

U.S. Immigration Policies and Mexico

Let’s agree on this: The majority of illegal aliens living in the United States are from Mexico and other countries in Central and South America.

On Jan. 29, NPR aired an upbeat “All Things Considered” interview with reporter Ted Robbins.

Topic? The Border Security Index, a quantitative tool conjured into being not long ago by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

According to Robbins, the index has brought glad tidings to DHS and the country, countering the concerns of those worrywarts within and without the agency who suggest that the administration’s extensive “reach out” policies to groups and states hostile to the U.S. may be costing us not just the proverbial hand, but the arm as well.

If it ever comes to a showdown, the reasoning goes, armless men are at a disadvantage.

“Histrionics,” say defenders of the Administration’s border control policies.

But the doubt, the tiny pinch at the back of the national neck, is hard to ignore, particularly when one recalls the calm, bucolic skyscape overhead on 9/11, minutes before two hijacked U.S. aircraft ripped through the Twin Towers and a third, reportedly heading for Washington, D.C., cratered into a field in Pennsylvania.

Critics, who point to the security failure in Benghazi and the increasing mobility and geographic reach — 67 countries and five continents — of al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, say another attack on the U.S. is inevitable and not far off.

And they say that lax, uncoordinated and politically driven border control policies along U.S. borders and at U.S. ports is an open invitation.

The rebuttal

No, no, no, says NPR reporter Robbins. According to the Border Security Index, arrests of illegal aliens have dropped from a million plus a decade ago to roughly 300,000 today.

Robbins outlines several reasons for this success. First, beefed up border security is working — ICE and Border Patrol Agents are better trained and better equipped to stop the flow, and new technologies, cameras, infrared equipment and a new detection devices/strategies that are too sensitive to explain in detail are making illegal border crossing a riskier proposition than ever before.

Second, this same beefed-up security is making it more difficult for illegal aliens inside the U.S. to exit, meaning the back and forth traffic of temporary illegal workers has come to a halt. Now, once inside, they tend to stay.

Third, the economy of Mexico is improving — stronger economic growth last year than the U.S. — so the incentive to blast on through to the other side of the border decreases as Mexico’s GDP rises.

Sounds good. Real good.

Time to get serious

There was a time when U.S. Customs and Border agents had the legal clout, authority, plus the intelligence and sources they needed to get the job done.

In 1985, when Mexican cartel thugs kidnapped and tortured DEA Agent Kiki Camarena, U.S. law enforcement — allowed at that time to operate 26 kilometers south of the U.S. border into Mexico — instantly tapped into their network of sources within Mexico and the cartels, teasing out the names of perpetrators within days. The Mexican authorities, cartel chiefs, assassins, informers and nearly all their friends and family were put on high alert: The U.S. wanted the men who tortured and killed Camarena and our agents wanted them fast.

Customs shut down the U.S.-Mexico border, blocking millions in trade, backing up traffic for hundreds of miles, and he swore the ports would remain closed until Mexico delivered. Very soon after, some very anxious individuals on the Mexican side of the border began “throwing the bodies over the fence” to feds waiting on the other side. U.S. law enforcement still had the executive and agency backing it needed to protect its own and U.S. citizens on our side of the line.

In 1992, when the U.S. and Mexico agreed on preliminary plans for the implementation of a free trade zone between the two countries, border agencies began to pull agents back toward the U.S. border. NAFTA, which U.S. policymakers believed then was too important to the nation’s economic growth to jeopardize, a view later tagged as overly optimistic, the balance of political power began to shift.

U.S. manufacturers, especially automakers and electronic outfits, were benefitting significantly from the construction of parts in Mexico (cheap labor and huge tariff reduction/elimination), and these campaign contributing corporations, as well as the American Bankers Association, became advocates for harmonious U.S.-Mexico relations.

President Clinton and Mexico’s President Salinas finalized NAFTA in 1994, and U.S. policymakers passed the word down: Mexico, whose cartels and cartel supporters continue to divvy up roughly 39 billion a year, was our new best friend. And Mexico, reason dictated, would not want to jeopardize its new trade relationship with the U.S. any more than we did — the same kind of logic that told Alan Greenspan, prior to 2008, that the banking community would never entertain any risk that might invite its own self-destruction.

Mistake.

In post-NAFTA Mexico, more than 50,000 men, women, and children (a number roughly equal to fatalities in Syria, a slaughter that triggered outcries from Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus to send combat ordnance to opposition forces there) have died in the drug wars Mexico’s government tells us it is winning.

It’s not about drugs—it’s about money

Criminal cartels move drugs into the U.S. because it’s profitable — everyone in the chain gets a taste, not cocaine, not heroin, not meth but cold hard cash. Drug kingpins want to expand the U.S. market via legal or illegal means, not because they’re ahead of the curve and understand we cannot and should not interfere with the morally-neutral demands of eight million addicts and their left-of-center supporters (their rationale is neither ideological nor “socially progressive”), but because it means money in their bank accounts.

And many of the banks are with them, barnacles on a drug blight ingenuous wealth managers prefer to ignore.

Look at HSBC. The recent scandal revealed the bank’s Mexican branches have laundering as much as 70 billion over the past few years — money on which brokers and account managers earn huge under and over-the-counter commissions.

Did HSBC know the money was dirty?

Duckwatchers I’m betting HSBC execs are not, but the fact that the bank moved tons of dirty dollars in the form of bulk cash via bank-to-bank transfers suggests someone may have understood the value of flying-under-the-radar.

Every day, millions in old-fashioned American greenbacks moved by air across the friendly skies between HSBC/Mexico to HSBC’s cash collection center in New York City.

The repatriation of cash from the HSBC Mexico City Bank averaged between 500 million to one billion every 22 business days. Bank-to-bank transactions are exempt from CMIR (Cash and Monetary Instrument Reports), a requirement for anyone who tries to cross the border carrying more than 10 thousand dollars, so there were no reports to the Treasury Department when the Mexican bank branches returned the cash to the U.S.

Drug cash crossing the border into Mexico is never counted. Banks, the venerable establishments at the core of U.S. economic growth, are exempted from CMIR reporting because bank to bank transactions are not considered “a risk.”

It’s assumed that the banks’ honest brokers have already vetted their customers.

The problem is that no one, not Financial Action Task Force (FATF), not Treasury, not ICE or DHS, vets the bank and its account managers. Not really. The civil fines, what bankers call “the price of doing business,” generally come after the fact.

And that’s too bad because the CMIR is the only instrument in place that could, if properly employed, measure the tons of drug dollars that spill out of the Mexican and Colombian cartels. CMIR is the only reliable scale we have to estimate the actual volume of drug money smuggled out of the U.S. and into Mexico, cash that is daily deposited, placed, layered and integrated back into the world economy through Mexico’s financial institutions.

Once bulk cash is returned to the U.S. or “repatriated” — almost every US bank, and every Mexican bank, benefits from what’s called “correspondent banking,” a sibling relationship between branches in both countries — the cash is placed on deposit at the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States as the asset of the depositing bank.

This is where the money is finally reckoned and how investigators in the U.S. have arrived at the 39 billion dollar figure as a rough estimate of cross-border cartel drug profits.

An ingenious scam, those bank-to-bank transfers and the CMIR exemptions — no counting at the border, no records, no delay.

The Feds also figure that over the past several years, Mexican cash traveling into and back out of the Federal Reserve vault in Brooklyn, NY, has weighed in at roughly 500 million to one billion every 22 days.

My point? There are some who say that NAFTA, designed to make the United States a productive trade partner with Mexico, may have merely made us, in many cases, its partner in crime.

News reports, too many to count, tell the same story about U.S. banking, including the criminal allegations and fines levied in recent years against HSBC, Wachovia, Citibank, Bank of America and other institutions in search of big accounts whose origins, to their shock and surprise, are discovered to be uncertain.

The pre-NAFTA clout enjoyed by U.S. law enforcement on the southwest border before 1994 quickly began to deteriorate.

Customs and DEA agents operating in Mexico had, for 30 years prior, been able to obtain credentials from Mexican authorities that permitted them to carry weapons within the Mexican states — an amenity also extended to Mexico’s police officers in the United States. Now that option disappeared, and in recent years, American  agents like Jaime Zapata, traveling unarmed in a government vehicle and ambushed at a checkpoint in northern Mexico, have paid the price.

In 1995, when it was revealed that U.S. law enforcement had, unknown to Mexican authorities, conducted a three-year money-laundering laundering investigation tagged Casablanca — the largest in U.S. history — and was about to confirm the involvement of General Enrique Cervantes, Mexico’s Secretary of Defense, in an one of the largest and most complicated money laundering schemes ever devised. Nearly every bank in Mexico was implicated, scores of bankers, brokers and traffickers identified and charged. Three of Mexico’s largest banks were indicted and convicted of money laundering.

Mexican authorities were outraged by what they saw as a breach of their national sovereignty, and the Clinton administration sent Attorney Janet Reno to Brownsville, TX, to sign an agreement with her Mexican counterpart that not only prohibited the U.S. from launching unilateral law enforcement investigations involving Mexico. The Brownsville Agreement also requires the U.S. to obtain concurrence, permission from the Mexican authorities before implementing such investigations in the future. It also compels U.S. law enforcement to work hand-in-hand with Mexican federal and state police, and forces U.S. law enforcement to brief government officials in Mexico on proposed strategies before they can be implemented.

No more finger-pointing at Mexico’s top dogs.

Which brings us back to ICE Agent Chris Crane and his colleagues who continue in their attempt to convince Congress, the courts, and the media that the U.S. has, in many ways, abandoned our borders. To highlight the fact that U.S. law enforcement personnel, once allowed to operate 26 kilometers south of the U.S. border, are now stationed in district offices located 60 or 80 miles inland. To disabuse us of the notion that jet skiers on Falcon Lake in U.S. territory and killed by cartel thugs in 2009, brought it on themselves. To counter the idea that Jesus Diaz, a Border Patrol agent doing time in a U.S. prison, deserves to be there because he forced an illegal alien — young, uncooperative and covered with gang tattoos — into a kneeling position in an attempt to restrain and search him — verboten, one suspects, under new DHS policies. The young Mexican, who was returned soon after unharmed to Mexico by bus, complained of “rough treatment” to the Mexican consulate, which complained to the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Diaz’s district. Our guy, Diaz, went to jail, not the kid with the strap marks canyoned into his shoulders, standing a few hundred feet from an abandoned backpack filled with cocaine.

So when NPR’s Ted Robbins ticks off the “probable” reasons that the arrests and deportations of illegal aliens have declined significantly, it might be prudent to give the devil his due and suggest that law enforcement personnel — ICE, DEA and Border Patrol agents who’ve seen colleagues lose their jobs, their lives and their freedom in the exercise of what they believed was their sworn duty — might merely be acquiescing to policies that preclude the apprehension, arrest and/or deportation of illegal aliens.

The border policies that fail to keep out the drugs and the dirty money are now joined by immigration policies that may fail to keep out even larger threats.

We’ll just have to wait, I suppose, along with ICE, for a crime “significant” enough to get our laws (the ones passed by Congress) working again.

 

Author

Kathleen Millar
Kathleen Millar

Kathleen Millar began her career in public affairs working for Lyn Nofziger, White House Communications Director. She has gone on to write about a wide range of enforcement and security issues for DHS, for the US Department of the Treasury (Customs & Border Patrol), for Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), then a Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and for top law enforcement officials in the United States and abroad.

A Founding Member of the Department of Homeland Security, Millar was also the deputy spokesperson-senior writer for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, Austria. She has authored numerous speeches, articles and opeds under her own and client bylines, and her work, focusing on trafficking, terrorism, border and national security, has appeared in both national and international outlets, including The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Financial Times, and Vital Speeches of the Day.

Kathleen Millar holds an MA from Georgetown University and was the recipient of a United Nations Fellowship, International Affairs, Oxford. She is a member of the Georgetown University Alumni Association, Women in International Security (GU), the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, and the American News Women’s Club in Washington, DC. Kathleen Millar is currently teaching and writing about efforts to combat transnational organized crime.

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