Royally Kranked

Friday, May 19, 2006

"Law & Order" Is Just A TV Show For This Administration

God, the irony is too rich here, a hard lib like myself is more concerned than the GOP with taking a VERY hard line towards one group of criminals

There's two groups of people I completely despise, and always want to see get hammered as hard as possible legally

Weapons traffickers and human smugglers

With all the empty GOP rhetoric and hoopla about stopping undocumented immigrants, apparently one big area of fighting this "scourge" was given VERY short shrift by this Administration and the GOP

Many Immigrant Smugglers Not Prosecuted


The vast majority of people caught smuggling immigrants across the border near San Diego are never prosecuted for the offense, demoralizing the agents making the arrests, according to an internal Border Patrol document obtained by The Associated Press.

Lets be clear about this-Only complete scum smuggle human cargo up through our Southern border, they make money off the misery of those seeking either work, a better life or fleeing from godawful conditions that put their lives at extreme risk, ala escaping the numerous-mainly rightwing-death squads that roamed Central & South America so prominently during the 1970's & 1980's, most notably in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Uruguay

As if the Border Patrol agents don't have enough troubling aspects of their jobs-mainly finding bodies of those abandoned in the desert and railroad boxcars by the scum smugglers, they also witness their efforts in bringing these bastards to justice thwarted in the overwhelming majority of cases, either by not being charged for any offense, or only charged with much lighter infractions

And the lack of money & legal system personnel play a large part in these nonprosecutions as well

"It is very difficult to keep agents' morale up when the laws they were told to uphold are being watered-down or not prosecuted," the report says.

The report offers a stark assessment of the situation at a Border Patrol station responsible for guarding 13 miles of mountainous border east of the city. Federal officials say it reflects a reality along the entire 2,000-mile border: Judges and federal attorneys are so swamped that only the most egregious smuggling cases are prosecuted.

Only 6 percent of 289 suspected immigrant smugglers were prosecuted by the federal government for that offense in the year ending in September 2004, according to the report. Some were instead prosecuted for another crime. Other cases were declined by federal prosecutors, or the suspect was released by the Border Patrol.

How absolutely infuriating it must be for the agents who catch these misery-traffickers when they're forced to release them, and don't doubt for a second that the smugglers don't go right back to their work the first chance they get-after all, why bother worrying about breaking the law when the system is set up to almost reward that effort in the first place?

And yes, the President bears as much of the blame as anyone here-he has the ultimate in Bully Pulpits, yet decides that style is far more important than substance when dealing with the worst part of the whole undocumented immigrants issue

The report raises doubts about the value of tightening security along the Mexican border. President Bush wants to hire 6,000 more Border Patrol agents and dispatch up to 6,000 National Guardsmen. He did not mention overburdened courts in his Oval Office address Monday on immigration.

Of course he didn't mention overburdened courts, according to the wingnut base who see any skin other than white as less than human, only activist judges make up the court system, and as we all know, unless activist judges are deciding Presidential Elections, then they're all worthless and a threat to our everyday existence

What apparently slipped the mind of the President and his inner circle here is that by not beefing up funding for more legal system personnel, then all that boost of money & resources ala More Border Patrol agents and National Guard Troops patrolling the border is nothing more than expensive window dressing, a complete waste of resources doomed to failure from the start if the only realistic option is to release the overwhelming majority of these human smugglers

And how demoralizing must it be for the entire Border Patrol and law enforcement authorities to realize that they'll be having to release yet more smugglers because of perverted funding priorites

The lack of prosecutions is "demoralizing the agents and making a joke out of our system of justice," said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents agents. "It is certainly a weak link in our immigration-enforcement chain."

The 41-page report says federal prosecutors in San Diego typically prosecute smugglers who commit "dangerous/violent activity" or guide at least 12 illegal immigrants across the border. But other smugglers know they are only going to get "slapped on the wrist," according to the report.

Funding for legal enforcement is THE weak link in this chain, and boosting the resources for more prosecutions of more smugglers would actually do more to hinder the paths of those who enter the country without documents than just locking up & deporting those whose only crime is looking for work, no matter how dirty, dangerous or low-paying

And there's another problem as well-since there aren't enough prosecutors to realistically put a dent in the smugglers efforts, deals & plea bargains have to be cut in order to focus on even more egregious cases where the immigrants are killed in the process-If I was a prosecutor, I'd be both depressed and irate that those smugglers who kill their human cargo are able to use the lack of legal system funding & personnel to their benefit with rather light sentences if they're prosecuted in the first place

The report cites a 19-year-old U.S. citizen caught three times in a two-week period in 2004 trying to sneak people from Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego in his car trunk, two at a time.

"This is an example of a kid who knows the system," the report says. "What is true is that he will probably never be prosecuted if he only smuggles only one or two bodies at a time."

The report also cites a Mexican citizen who was caught in Arizona and California driving with illegal immigrants and was released each time to Mexico. He was prosecuted the fourth time, when two illegal immigrants in his van died in a crash, and sentenced to five years in prison.

Two deaths bring only five years

How does that light sentence show a system fully committed to prosecuting the lowest of the low, those who smuggle human cargo?

How does that light sentence show a system operating at as close to 100% efficiency as possible?

It doesn't, and the fact that so many of the anti-immigrant hardliners arent' screaming about the massive need for desperately needed funding increases shows that, at their core, so many of those screaming the loudest about stopping the "flood of illegal aliens" don't really give a damn about anything but skin color as it relates to those coming up through the US Southern border

Because if they WERE serious about cracking down on this aspect of undocumented immigrants, they'd have to accept that successfully prosecuting human smugglers depends on testimony from those smuggled over the border, which would mean they'd have to be fed & lodged in this country until they could testify at trials

U.S. Attorney Carol Lam in San Diego said about half her 110 attorneys work on border cases in an area where the Border Patrol made nearly 140,000 arrests last year. She said she gives highest priority to the most serious cases, including suspects with long histories of violent crime or offenders who endanger others' lives.

"We figure out how many cases our office can handle, start from the worst and work our way down," she said.

Lam said many suspected migrant smugglers are prosecuted instead for re-entering the country after being deported, a crime that can be proved with documents. Smuggling cases are more difficult to prosecute because they require witnesses to testify.

With this lack of funding, only the absolute worst of the worst get prosecuted, and even then, due to lack of resources which requires plea-bargains, those responsible for deaths, as shown in the case of the two dead, get light sentences

I don't blame Lam for this problem, she's making do with what she's got in terms of finances & prosecutors

The problem lies squarely with those controlling the purse strings, the Congress and Senate, and a President who'd rather pander to a badly needed base for purely political gain instead of investing the most minute of "Political Capital" into really trying to make a dent in the problem

The Border Patrol, which would neither confirm nor deny the document's authenticity, said prosecutors in San Diego recently agreed to prosecute a Top 20 list of smugglers if they are caught.

The Justice Department in Washington declined to comment. However, at a congressional hearing last month, Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla., told Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that Lam's record on migrant smuggling was "a pathetic failure." Gonzales replied that he was urging U.S. attorneys to more actively enforce laws but noted that immigration cases were "a tremendous strain and burden" along the border.

Peter Nunez, a former U.S. attorney in San Diego, said prosecutors along the border struggle with limited resources and a huge caseload of immigration cases.

"This is not an indictment of the U.S. Attorney's Office, because you have to deal with the realities of the caseload, but it is an indictment of how badly Congress and presidents have handled the immigration system," he said.

Sure, short term publicity resulted in the Border Patrol's decision about the Wanted List, but that's absolutely no replacement for serious legal-system funding and personnel

And another aspect of that legal system funding would be for the public defenders needed to represent low-level smugglers claiming indigent status, as those smugglers pulling in a healthy amount per load would be able to afford competent legal representation

The current policy towards smugglers is focused on walls and high tech toys instead of where it's needed the most-in the legal system

The report says immigrants in the area paid an average of $1,398 to be guided across the border in 2004.

"Smugglers are making lots of money breaking the immigration laws, and there is not much incentive for them to stop these illegal activities," it says. "The smugglers know that even if they are caught, it will be difficult to punish them."

You want to put a REAL dent in the numbers of undocumented immigrants?

Then hit the employers with heavy fines, the larger the employer, the heavier the fines and prison sentences. Then go after the smugglers as hard as possible legally, with heavier fines and prison sentences for the more well-off smugglers and their operations

But walls and high-tech toys alone won't help the Border Patrol, no matter how many more agents they're assigned, not as long as funding for legal system resources and personnel are nothing more than mere afterthoughts for publicity hungry politicians worried about appealing to their hate-filled base

1 Comments:

  • Please call me a GIRL!!!!
    A few weeks ago I got into a heated discussion with a fellow gay male. His only response to my witty retorts was "You are such a GIRL". I kept saying "THANK YOU!" and he never got it!

    A few years ago I volunteered working with second grade students helping them with reading and math skills. One day there was a big fuss made over one student calling another student a "GIRL". My respsonse was "Wow! Girls are wonderful, powerful, kind, funny, friendly and amazing, you can call me a girl anytime!!!" The second graders got it. From that point on being called a girl in that classroom was considered a compliment.

    I am a gay male who NEVER thinks the word GIRL is an insult. Too bad Aravosis doesn't get it.

    By Blogger Everyday Activist, at 10:47 AM  

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