Desert Invasion - U.S.

Bordering on a War Zone

By Interview of Andy Ramirez by William F. Jasper, The New American

Andy Ramirez, the chairman of a non-profit organization supporting the U.S. Border Patrol, describes the perilous situation along the U.S.-Mexico border....

The New American: You've just returned from the Canadian border and, of course, you live near the Mexican border. As you are well aware, our borders have been neglected, undermanned, and overrun for many years. So what's your overall assessment right now, on our present situation? Is it getting better or worse?

Andy Ramirez: Having observed both borders and spoken with law enforcement officials, the Southern border is a war zone, while the Northern border has been completely neglected by both DHS and the administration. In terms of the numbers, it's an invasion. In terms of politics, the current administration and the politicians in both major parties continue to talk about taking back control of our borders, but they haven't done anything remotely close to what is necessary. The Border Patrol is still hopelessly undermanned; they can't even hope to come close to fulfilling their mission of protecting our country if we don't increase personnel, replace outdated equipment, and resume sweeps.

Agents know that their superiors in Washington going all the way up to President Bush himself not only are refusing to back them up but are also making life miserable for them by transferring them around in a continuous shell game.

Instead of providing the force levels needed, the president simply responds by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Arizonans are getting very upset about the increased alien and drug traffic through their area? Oh, okay, we'll just steal several hundred Border Patrol agents from another sector, say, California's San Diego sector, and make a big media show of "cracking down" in the Tucson sector for a while. But meanwhile, the sectors you've raided are falling apart.

Additionally, the agents you've moved are unhappy because it's disrupted their family lives, they're not being properly reimbursed for moving and living expenses, and they know it's all for show, so they get discouraged. There are many good, experienced Border Patrol agents who have retired or resigned out of anger and frustration, and we can't afford to lose these guys. Unfortunately, that attrition rate will continue unless the American people make politicians get serious about border security and real immigration reform....

TNA: Do you see the administration's response or rather, lack of response to the recent Mexican military incursions into the U.S. as proof positive that the administration has abandoned our borders?

Ramirez: Exactly. George Bush is the best ambassador Mexico ever had! He's doing everything to please Mexico, and I say that as a Republican who had hoped that after the eight-year disaster of the Clinton administration, we might see some desperately needed relief for our overwhelmed borders.

Over the past 10 years, the Border Patrol has reported more than 235 incursions by Mexican military and police units into the U.S., including incidents where U.S. civilians, Border Patrol agents, and other law enforcement came under fire from the uniformed Mexicans. What does the Bush administration do? It covers it up and takes Mexico's side in these cases, accepting the Mexican government's ludicrous claims that these are aberrations or innocent mistakes or that they are "rogue" operations and that the Mexican government is "investigating" the incidents.

I can't tell you how many times I've been on the phone with Border Patrol line agents and I can hear the gun shots including automatic weapons fire going on like a war zone, which is what the border has become....

TNA: You told me about a recent incident when you were down on the Texas-Mexico border with some of the sheriffs.

Ramirez: Yes, On March 21st, Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar was interviewed on television, on KFOX out of El Paso, and he said that there were no Mexican military units involved in the January 23 incident in Hudspeth County. So he was openly contradicting what all the deputies and officers on the scene actually saw. Understandably, all of the sheriffs and local law enforcement were outraged over Aguilar's televised statement.

Three days after Aguilar's appearance on KFOX, I was at the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition meeting with a group of sheriffs when National Deputy Border Patrol Chief Luis Barker was queried by Sheriff Arvin West of Hudspeth County. Barker tried to deny that his boss Aguilar had said there were not Mexican military involved in the incident....

It was also a gross insult to the law enforcement officers who were involved and who were there on the line looking down the barrels of the Mexican military, because there were no Border Patrol agents there guarding the border! Aguilar and the White House are responsible for leaving that border vulnerable. Then when the sheriffs do the job that the Border Patrol is supposed to be doing, the administration tried to discredit them and made it sound like they're exaggerating the danger.

So, when Barker came up and tried to cover up his boss's statement, the sheriffs were really steamed....

TNA: Tell us about the "Military Incursion Cards."

Ramirez: ...It's one thing to lie to the public, which we know is taking place, but I witnessed Barker telling them that the incursion and another recent incident, involving a Mexican customs agent in uniform marking smuggling trails with a GPS tracker, didn't happen though Hudspeth sheriffs made the collar themselves. How do you lie or attempt to distort facts to Congress and fellow law enforcement officers? Someone is ordering them to do so, and that is impeachable.

Just the day before, March 23rd, I had provided a sheriff with a copy of the Military Incursion Card, which tells Border Patrol agents how to react to incursions by the Mexican military. The sheriffs were floored by the incursion card since it countered Aguilar's previous statements about incursions....

Now, this is quite an amazing document and it puts the lie to all the administration's talk about wonderful cooperation with Mexico's government, which is contradicted by every line agent I have spoken with.

The violations of our border by Mexican military units have become so common that the Department of Homeland Security produced a set of guidelines, the "Military Incursions Card," for Border Patrol agents to carry. The card explains that "Mexican military are trained to escape, evade, and counter-ambush if it will effect their escape." The card, as I understand it, was first issued in 1997 by Tucson BP Sector.

But get this, the card actually tells agents to hide from Mexican military that may be operating and to "avoid" all confrontation with them. It's incredible! The very purpose of the Border Patrol is to officially confront those who come across our borders, to protect U.S. citizens from being confronted by these law-breakers. This is a bald admission by the administration that it is abandoning the borders and the people who live in the border areas....

Read the complete article.

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