OUR VIEWS: Audit the Border Patrol

Sep 28, 2012

These are among the allegations that 11 legislators — including U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit — and human rights advocates have lodged against the U.S. Border Patrol in relation to the officers’ actions along the Canadian-United States border.

Concerned legislators recently sent letters to the U.S. Government Accountability Office asking for a third-party audit of the Border Patrol agents’ actions along the northern border. So far, there has been no response.

Clearly, though, this needs to be addressed.

There appears to be little or no public accountability for Border Patrol agents. They can arrest and detain someone without ever revealing who they arrested, who they are jailing and why. When pressed for answers via Freedom of Information Act laws, they delay, delay again and finally respond with blank pages of arrest information or generic overview information.

Border Patrol agents have more sweeping powers than do most police officers, and tout vague regulations about pulling over or detaining people based upon “suspicion.”

You have tan skin. You are suspicious. Let me see your driver’s license and documentation. Let me search your car while we’re at it.

This is certainly the impression that many — including legislators and human rights activists — have of Border Patrol activities along at least the northern border.

Certainly, those agents along the southern border have their hands full. But along the northern border, the agents’ ranks have doubled since 2007. Do we really need this many Border Patrol agents roaming our colder climates? Do they have enough to keep them legitimately busy? Are they held accountable? Do they really keep our borders safe?

This is all in question.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office should evaluate Border Patrol agents’ activities and provide clear answers to the public. If these agents are doing nothing wrong, then they have nothing to worry about and they’ll be cleared of “suspicion.”

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

formerBP

As a former Border Patrol agent who worked on both the Southern and Northern border, I can't even begin to describe how poorly informed you are. Your naive comments such as "targeting based on race and religion" are completely false. In this day and age, Border Patrol agents are expected to do an increasingly difficult job in an increasingly PC environment.

You have no idea how much drugs and other contraband is smuggled through the Northern border. You have no idea how many people cross our Northern border illegally each day, yet you see fit to question why the US government is finally trying to do something about it.

And no, Border Patrol agents do not have more powers than police. We all operate under the US Constitution. And yes, Border Patrol agents are kept in check, through CBP Internal Affairs and OIG.

Border Patrol Agents are actually doing an outstanding job, considering each day it seems they are having to do their job with one hand or another tied behind their back.

More oversight is fine, but your naive and misinformed accusations is simply pandering to the left.

Tri-cities realist

Thank you for helping to keep our borders secure. And I am sickened any time our government or the "leadership" of the BP tie the hands of agents, who are tasked with an almost impossible job, as was the case with agents Ramos and Compean. Thankfully they received justice having their sentences commuted.

miss kitty

This editorial took me somewhat aback coming from an editorial board of a newspaper. For the last several months I've been reading about the Federal government having the right to arrest and detain indefinitely virtually anyone it wants to. Google "NDAA" and see how many links you come up with. Here's one: http://www.aclu.org/blog/nationa...
So I guess if the border patrol stops someone, it's wrong, according to you, but the Feds can legally arrest anyone of ANY color, anywhere AND detain them INDEFINITELY. Perhaps your next editorial can be against this unconstitutional law that was enacted???

newspaperlawyer

After reading this article its to show how liberal the Grand Haven Tribune has become. Just travel to another foreign country and see what happens if you don't have the proper citizenship paperwork. Go to Mexico and buy groceries in the store and you find they charge american's more.

Wingmaster

Rampant illegal entry into this country and our local newspaper wants to audit the border patrol! I'm not saying there is not room to ask questions, but really. How about an opinion on how we secure or help secure those borders. How about an article on how difficult the job of securing the borders. There is an obvious illegal activity here, (illegal entry) and your focus is the border patrol..amazing. Thank you all current and retired BP agents for a tough job well done.

truthhurts

they should be targeting suspicious people, that is how you catch the wrong doers. People that are legitimate are questioned and let go, no problem. This is America, and if the people that are being questioned don't like it, then get the heck out of this country!!! Whats the problem???

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