Jim Kouri
February 7, 2008
Congressman Duncan Hunter demands feds install border fence
By Jim Kouri

Representative Duncan Hunter, R-Calif, author of the fencing provisions of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, has introduced new legislation in the House of Representatives to require the construction of double-layered fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico within six months, according to a memo sent to the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

As previously reported, the language of an amendment submitted by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, into the Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Homeland Security funding bill, H.R. 2638, specifically exempts DHS from having to build any fence at all.

The Hutchison amendment reads, in part, " ... nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary of Homeland Security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location."

"While these lawmakers living in their Ivory Towers in Washington continue to play political games with one another and collude with the Mexican government in repeated incidents of violation of US sovereignty by armed Mexicans, the American people are being victimized by illegal aliens some of whom are using fully-automatic assault rifles and other state-of-the-art weaponry, "claims Lieutenant Steven Rogers, a police commander in New Jersey.

Lt. Rogers heads the board of directors of a police-counterterrorism organization called AmeriCop.com (http://www.AmeriCop.com).

According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office an entity that reports to the legislative branch of government rather than the executive and judicial branhes. the increase in the number of incursions is staggering"

17 documented, illegal border crossings into America by armed Mexican soldiers in 2006

29 documented, illegal border incursions of all kinds by Mexican forces in 2006

253 documented, illegal border crossings by Mexican soldiers and policemen to assist drug and weapons traffickers in the past decade

1000 attacks against US Border Patrol agents in 2007

"And who knows what dangerous contraband and materials may have crossed our borders in the absence of a secure southern border?" asks New York police officer Edna Aguayo.

"These politicians must restore the $3 billion dollars to the Department of Homeland Security budget and build the fence demanded by the American people, RIGHT NOW!" she addeded.

Violence on the border increased 31% from 2006 to 2007, and attacks on agents jumped 44% over the same period, according to the recent GAO report.

The result of the Hutchison amendment was to give DHS total discretion to build a fence or not to build a fence in any particular location, removing from the Secure Fence Act the requirement that 700 miles of double-layer fence be built on the border with Mexico.

"When the Secure Fence Act was enacted more than one year ago, the American people were pleased to see the necessary steps were finally being taken to secure the dangerous and problematic smuggling corridors that exist along our border with Mexico," Congressman Hunter said.

Sadly, he recently dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination because his message was ignored by the news media establishment, according to several political observers.

"Liberals will ramble on-and-on about the issues and the news media feverishly cover their stories... most of them filled with psycho-babble and nonsense," says former NYPD detective and US Marine Sidney Francis.

"Instead of adhering to the law and building the prescribed fencing, the Department of Homeland Security began to immediately retreat from the mandates of the bill, indicating its intention to build 370 miles of fence and not the required 700 miles," Hunter continued.

Hunter pointed out DHS has built approximately 75 miles of new fence along the border, of which only five miles is double-layered.

"The reality is that single-layered fencing and vehicle barriers do little, if anything, to stop illegal immigration and the 'virtual fence' alternative being aggressively pursued by DHS remains ineffective and unusable," Rep. Hunter emphasized.

"The legislation I am introducing reinstates the most important elements of the Secure Fence, which were wrongly amended under the omnibus spending bill," Hunter noted. "If we truly hope to bring some sense of security to our southern land border, then we must begin building the appropriate infrastructure in the timeliest manner possible."

Hunter's bill also would eliminate the "consultation" language in the omnibus appropriations bill which required DHS to open for discussion with landholders and residents on the border the wisdom and necessity of building a two-layered fence.

Hunter noted that provision potentially opened fence construction to endless challenges.

President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 on Oct. 26, 2006.

Hunter's new legislation has been referred to the House Homeland Security Committee for further consideration.

Violence along the border with Mexico will likely increase this year as the administration bolsters Border Patrol staffing and adds more fencing and technology to catch illegal immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday.

On Saturday, US Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar, 32, was killed in California's Imperial Sand Dunes recreation area, run over by suspected drug smugglers as he was laying down a spike strip to stop their fleeing Hummer.

Aguilar's death has drawn attention to escalating violence on both sides of the US-Mexico divide, which Chertoff and other administration officials attributed partly to heightened border security measures.

"Experience shows that the more successful you are in putting pressure on criminal organizations, the more violent they will become in fighting back," said Chertoff, who wore a pin depicting a Border Patrol badge draped in black. "The sad, tragic fact is that the increase in violence is very consistent with other metrics we've had that show we're getting increased success with stopping the flow across the border."

In an interview with The Times and the Associated Press, Chertoff and Border Patrol officials said the agency considered the agent's death a murder the first since 1998 of a Border Patrol agent and was working closely with Mexico to investigate. The Hummer's driver appeared to swerve not just to avoid the spike strip, but to "hit the agent intentionally," one witness told investigators.

Mexican officials reportedly found the Hummer, empty and burned, in Mexicali.

Chertoff and other officials said Aguilar's death highlighted a need to continue such initiatives as a fence.

Several border groups have sharply criticized Homeland Security's plan to build a border fence on private land. Many residents, mayors and business owners also object to Chertoff's announcement that if necessary, his agency will seize land from unwilling property owners in order to continue construction.

"I know it gripes some people; they don't want it on their property," Chertoff said.

But, he continued, "if the [Border Patrol] chief says to me building a barrier, building a fence would make it safer in this particular area . . . I'm going to use every available tool, including the courts."

Meanwhile, conservatives critical of President Bush's policies on illegal immigration have cited Aguilar's death in renewing calls to pardon Ignacio "Nacho" Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. The two were Border Patrol agents, sentenced in 2006 to more than 10 years in prison after shooting an unarmed Mexican drug smuggler in the buttocks as he fled to Mexico. (They were found guilty of violating his civil rights and trying to cover up their actions.)

"Obviously, Aguilar didn't know if he could use his gun to shoot at this car coming at him," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) said on Fox TV.

Border Patrol officials strongly disputed that.

"It's not a fair comparison, and it diminishes our shock and heartbreak," said National Deputy Chief Ron Colburn.

During a Washington DC press conference, Chertoff said there was no indication that Aguilar had time to defend himself.

Both Colburn and Chertoff stressed that Border Patrol agents are allowed to use force to defend themselves. Chertoff said that agents have been attacked with firearms, knives, bats, steel pipes, vehicles, boats and slingshots.

Border officials say the burgeoning violence is rooted partly in criminal organizations' turf battles and lawlessness on Mexico's side.

Some 2,500 Mexicans died in drug-related violence in 2007, and the nation's president, Felipe Calderon, has made combating drug cartels his government's priority.

Chertoff linked the jump in violence to an array of U.S. enforcement measures, including fencing.

He said that his agency had built about 170 miles of pedestrian fencing and 130 miles of vehicle barriers.

He also cited increased Border Patrol staffing which now stands at 15,000 and policies in which illegal immigrants are deported and not released.

The administration has set up protocols that allow Homeland Security to coordinate with Mexico when violence crosses the border.

Chertoff said that Mexican officials reacted promptly after Aguilar's death, and that he had discussed with them additional steps they might take "to turn up pressure on cartels."

Chertoff added that the violence would require continued close cooperation, including joint intelligence-gathering and investigations on both sides of the border.

© Jim Kouri

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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