Border crossings

  • Border securityFormer head of Internal Affairs at CBP: Agency suffers from “institutional narcissism”; conducting its affairs beyond “constitutional constraints”

    By Robert Lee Maril

    In what may become the most explosive scandal in the history of the U.S. Border Patrol, James F. Tomsheck, former head of Internal Affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), accused his own agency of protecting its agents from criminal charges, including murder, corruption, and graft. Tomsheck also directly pointed the finger at CBP senior management, including former Commissioner Alan Bersin and Chief David Aguilar. Tomsheck, who served until June of this year as the head of internal affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, characterized his agency as suffering from “institutional narcissism” and maintaining a culture which allowed its agents to act beyond “constitutional constraints”

  • ImmigrationImmigration courts in New Jersey try to cope with “fast-tracking” cases

    The state of New Jersey is proceeding to process the cases of eighteen families that have been apprehended in May as part of a wave of mass migration from Central America. The number of underage illegal border crosser has now reached 57,500. The pace of cases in New Jersey immigration courts has quickened, alarming and overwhelming attorneys and judicial staff involved in the action.

  • Border securityMexico should do more to stem tide of Central American children reaching U.S.: Experts

    While Congress and the White House struggle to pass a bipartisan solution to the influx of Central American children and families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, some immigration experts are urging the Obama administration to put more pressure on the Mexican government to secure its border with Guatemala and Belize. Illegal migration into the United States from Mexico is at its lowest levels in four decades, but the share of Central American migrants detained along the U.S. southern border is at its highest.

  • Border securityDHS IG finds problems in detention centers for undocumented immigrants

    A DHS IG report finds problems in several detention centers for Central American children and families who recently crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, including inadequate food supplies, temperature-control problems, and a high employee-to-detainee ratio.

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  • ImmigrationImmigration cases clog immigration courts across the country

    The highly publicized mass immigration of Central American children into the United States — roughly 57,000 over a little under a year — many court systems are facing a crisis as the number of judges, lawyers, and juries available cannot keep up with demand. Across the United States, that caseload reached 375,373 trials last month — an average of 1,500 per each of the country’s 243 immigration judges. Some rescheduled cases are being pushed back as late as 2017.

  • Border securityDoes the border really need Perry’s 1,000 National Guard?

    By Robert Lee Maril

    Various solutions to the two and one-half year surge at the border by unaccompanied children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have been proposed by Congress, law enforcement, the public, and politicians with a dog in the fight. The increase in unaccompanied children seeking asylum, however, should be defined less as a border security problem, and more as a refugee problem. At the same time, this newest border dilemma reemphasizes Congress’s failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform that could calmly address this and other real border issues, all problems with which individual states like Texas have had to contend since 1986.

  • ImmigrationU.S. mulls ways to handle complex child immigration issue

    The influx of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States has reached crisis proportions, with 90,000 now in the United States. The children are escaping violence and deprivation in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, but a George W. Bush-era law prevents their rapid repatriation. Leading Republicans want to change the law, but many Democrats condition such a change on folding it into a comprehensive immigration reform.

  • Border securityTo stem flow of minors, U.S. goes after human traffickers’ finances

    Many of the 57,000 Central American minors who have crossed the Southwest border since October 2013 did so with the help of smugglers operating as part of a human trafficking network. To bring down these networks, federal agents from DHS and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network(FinCEN) are reviewing suspicious bank transactions at U.S. banks, specifically accounts that are experiencing a sudden surge in transfers to Mexico.

  • Border securityEffectiveness of Texas National Guard border troop surge questioned

    Texas governor Rick Perry’s plan to send nearly 1,000 Texas National Guardtroops to the Rio Grande Valley has been applauded by the governor’s supporters, but critics question its effectiveness. Gov. Perry’s decision to send nearly 1,000 guardsmen to the Rio Grande Valley is described as “symbolic,” and top officials in border counties agree that sending more guardsmen to the border would bring little change to the current situation.

  • ImmigrationWave of illegal children immigrants shifts debate on use of executive powers

    After several immigration bills stalled in Congress, President Barack Obama, in 2012 and 2013, issued a series of executive orders to limit the number of deportations of illegal immigrants. Many who advocated a tougher stance on immigration have charged Obama with failure to consult with Congress. The Obama administration is now trying to find a way to deport Central American illegal immigrants, many of them unaccompanied children, without running afoul of a George W. Bush 2008 law which makes such deportation difficult – and some of his immigration criticswant him to take executive action on the issue, a shift from their usual criticism that he has abused his executive powers.

  • Border securityEfforts to discourage unaccompanied minors from entering U.S. have so far failed

    The administration’s efforts to discourage children from Central America and Mexico from illegally entering the United States continue to gain little traction, and the number of migrants under eighteen years old illegally crossing the U.S-Mexico border continues to increase. Officials blame the surge in young migrants on the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a 2008 law which made it difficult to repatriate unaccompanied minors without letting then appear before an immigration judge. The administration has asked Congress to change the 2008 law to give DHS greater discretion in repatriating Central American children more quickly, but some Senate Democrats have vowed to block narrow changes to immigration laws.

  • Border securityProposed border security surge threatens to create ghost towns along the border -- again

    The U.S. Customs and Border Patrolhas apprehended more illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley in the first eight months of fiscal 2014 (160,000) than it did for all of fiscal 2013 (154,453). Last May, agents apprehended over 1,100 illegal immigrants per day in the Rio Grande Valley. Texas officials have now authorized the Department of Public Safety(DPS) to send additional law enforcement personnel to patrol areas along the Texas-Mexico border at a cost of $1.3 million each week for the remainder of the year. Some residents compared the proposed surge, announced last week, to 2013’s Operation Strong Safety, which, these residents say, resembled a police state which created ghost towns along the border where illegal immigrants became afraid to go to work or send their children to school for fear of deportation.

  • Border security1.6%: CBP data show dysfunctional Internal Affairs

    By Robert Lee Maril

    The good news is that James F. Tomscheck, the head of internal affairs for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol since 2006, was reassigned last week to another job within his agency. The bad news is that CBP internal affairs supports a decades-old culture mired in cronyism and secrecy. Last month, for example, CBP finally disclose data about internal affairs investigations into allegations of abuse by its own agents. Even so, the numbers are so out of whack that this federal report easily might be confused with the Chinese government’s recent version of the violence at Tiananmen Square in 1989: out of 809 complaints of abuse by CBP agents from January of 2009 to January of 2012, only an astounding thirteen required disciplinary action against CBP agents. The public is supposed to believe, in other words, that under Tomscheck’s leadership, a mere 1.6 percent of the charges against his agents over a three-year period had merit.

  • VisasEconomic relationships, not terrorism fears, drive visa decisions: study

    Despite heightened focus on preventing global terrorism since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, researchers have found that the economic relationship between two countries is the most significant factor in determining the acceptance or rejection rate of visas. “Surprisingly what I find is the global reputation a state garners as a prominent origin of terrorism has a very minute impact when you take into account trade interdependence,” the study’s author says.

  • ImmigrationSharp increase in the number of unaccompanied children crossing into U.S.

    DHS’ Office of Immigration Statisticsreports that U.S. Border Patrolagents apprehended 30,000 children traveling alone illegally across the Mexican border in 2013. The Border Patrol expects to arrest as many as 90,000 children this year, and about 142,000 children in 2015. The Office of Management and Budgethas notified the Senate Appropriations Committeethat the increase in the number of children crossing the border alone would cost the government at least $2.28 billion, about $1.4 billion more than the Obama administration had budgeted for in its Unaccompanied Alien Childrenprogram.