Getting What We Paid for on the Border

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And this development was not considered?

The pattern has become familiar: Customs officers wave in vehicles filled with illegal immigrants, drugs or other contraband. A Border Patrol agent acts as a scout for smugglers. Trusted officers fall prey to temptation and begin taking bribes.

Increased corruption is linked, in part, to tougher enforcement, driving smugglers to recruit federal employees as accomplices. It has grown so worrisome that job applicants will soon be subject to lie detector tests to ensure that they are not already working for smuggling organizations. In addition, homeland security officials have reconstituted an internal affairs unit at Customs and Border Protection, one of the largest federal law enforcement agencies, overseeing both border agents and customs officers.

So whom should we thank more heartily — Tom Tancredo or Lou Dobbs? You have to admit, there’s quite a self-reinforcing feedback loop for resentment politics here. It reminds me of when New York State passed the notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws in 1973, giving New York the “toughest” drug laws in the nation. There were two major beneficiaries to these laws — drug kingpins, who could ratchet up the price of drugs due to increased “risk,” and law ‘n’ order politicians, who could strut their tough guy stuff all over Albany.

The New York Times’ story includes a cool graphic, along with some context:

click to enlarge

While the corruption investigations involve a small fraction of the overall security workforce on the border, the numbers are growing. In the 2007 fiscal year, the Homeland Security Department’s main anticorruption arm, the inspector general’s office, had 79 investigations under way in the four states bordering Mexico, compared with 31 in 2003. Officials at other federal law enforcement agencies investigating border corruption also said their caseloads had risen.

— which seems to me like saying the cracks in the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf are but a small fraction of the Arctic ice.


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