Assaults against U.S. Border Patrol agents along a 260-mile stretch of the Arizona/Mexico border known as the Tucson sector, a desolate expanse of territory that is the nation’s major artery for illegal immigration, are on a record clip. In the first eight months of fiscal year 2005 there have been 163 recorded acts of violence against border agents compared with 118 for all of fiscal year 2004, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.
The violence “is indicative of the desire by the type of people coming here” to protect their illicit cargo, said Shawn Moran, a border patrol agent and San Diego local union official. “[President] Bush likes to say just good hearted people are trying to come across our borders,” Moran said, “but a number of them are hardened criminals with a criminal past and they are willing to do anything it takes.”
The State Department also is warning U.S. citizens about the violence, alerting the public about “the continuing unsettled public security situation” along the border. The warning says there is “violent criminal activity fueled by a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade” and that the “criminals are armed with an impressive array of weapons.”But union officials and agents said that they are often frustrated by internal policies that keep them from taking aggressive action against illegal immigrants.
McCubbin said that because of personnel shortages, the border patrol has shifted from active patrols to a policy of “high visibility” in which agents are basically static or in “watch mode” until an actual incursion is noted and they have to respond.
Some agents complained that they are rarely allowed to pursue illegal immigrants, regardless of the situation.
“If anyone runs from us, we don’t chase them,” said one California-based border patrol agent who requested anonymity. “We could have information that there is a nuke in the back of a van but we don’t have authority to chase them,” the agent said. “We’ve had radiation pagers go off and we’re still not allowed [by our supervisors] to give chase,” he said. “They are scared to death something will go wrong and there will be a huge liability.”
Read entire article at MSNBC.