Thursday, November 09, 2006

Will boosted border hiring cause corruption?

If you were a drug cartel leader with connections in US law enforcement and criminal networks inside and outside the United States willing to distribute your product, wouldn't you consider the current hiring wave by the US Customs Service the greatest single opportunity of your life? Reports the Detroit News:

Officials warn that the risk of public corruption will grow as Congress and the Bush administration respond to public demands to improve border security. Customs and Border Protection, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, wants to add 10,000 employees to its work force of 42,000, most of whom are stationed along the Mexican border.

Seriously - if you were a cartel leader, wouldn't you be manufacturing phony ID papers and sending in your lieutenants to apply for these slots as quick as you could? And do you think the Bush Homeland Security department will handle vetting 10,000 new agents any more competently than, say, the response to Hurrcane Katrina?

Maybe I'm just being cyncial, or maybe I've just seen it happen too many times, but I predict we'll see increased corruption problems among border officials in coming years as a result of this illogically rapid, politically motivated border security buidup.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Gosh. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Let's make a move to immediately eliminate ALL border security personnel in order to solve this potential problem. That'll show those cartel bosses.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No let's spend money first on rooting out border corruption BEFORE going on a hiring spree.

You could hire 20,000 more Border Patrol, but it only takes one corrupt one to wave a shipment of drugs through.

Anonymous said...

To the smartass first commenter, did you read the article Grits linked to? It's not a "potential problem." The people who share his concerns are the ast director of the FBI criminal division and the US Attorney in Arizona - real softie liberals, they are. Here's the part you clearly didn't read:

Criminal charges have been brought against Border Patrol agents, local police, a county sheriff, an FBI supervisor, immigration examiners, prison guards, school district officials and uniformed personnel of every branch of the U.S. military, among others. The vast majority have pleaded guilty or been convicted.

Officials in Washington and along the border worry about what lies below the surface. "It is the tip of the iceberg," said James "Chip" Burrus, assistant director of the criminal investigation division of the FBI.

What is known -- from court cases, other public records and dozens of interviews -- is alarming enough. Some schemes have displayed considerable sophistication among Mexican drug lords, and their success shows a discouraging willingness by public employees to take tainted money.

Perhaps the most revealing example of smugglers' savvy was their cultivation of the highest-ranking FBI official in El Paso, Special Agent in Charge Hardrick Crawford.

FBI agents thought they had turned alleged drug kingpin Jose Maria Guardia into an informant, but Guardia was working as a double agent for the Mexican drug lords. He drew Crawford into a personal friendship, and provided a job for Crawford's wife, a country club membership for the couple and family trips to Las Vegas.

In August, after the chummy relationship became public, Crawford was convicted on federal charges of trying to conceal his friendship with Guardia.

Drug rings once planted a mole in a federal agency. The rings have entangled U.S. agents in sexual relationships. And they have amassed files on individual U.S. agents, with details about their finances, families and habits -- even the kind of bicycles their kids ride.

Paul K. Charlton, U.S. attorney for Arizona since 2001, is convinced border corruption is worsening -- and jeopardizing the trust that U.S. communities place in their government.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Gosh. Corruption must be a real problem. Good thing Congress approved that border wall. You can't corrupt brick and mortar.

And in response to your "it only takes one" argument: do you really think you can totally eliminate corruption in that (or ANY) agency for that matter? (How exactly will money help, anyway?) And if not - if it still "only takes one corrupt (agent) to wave a shipment of drugs through" - then it doesn't matter how many agents you have, so why fund the agency at all?

Or maybe we should just try and increase the size of the (unpaid) Minutemen. That'll get us more bang for our buck while solving the corruption problem.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hey, anonymous1, now you're asking the right questions!

"do you really think you can totally eliminate corruption in that (or ANY) agency for that matter?"

No, I don't.

"How exactly will money help, anyway?"

They need to beef up internal affairs and fund investigations. Also, I've been advocating for creation of a state-level AG division to investigate public corruption.

Then you ask, "And if not - if it still "only takes one corrupt (agent) to wave a shipment of drugs through" - then it doesn't matter how many agents you have, so why fund the agency at all?"

Now you're hitting on the key point - what is this agency for? The immigration problem could be solved overnight through a version of amnesty and rationalizing immigration quotas to match US labor demands. Then you could isolate investigations on the cartels without distraction. Even then, more than MORE agents, we need less corrupt ones. Drug smuggling across the border on a large scale can't happen without corrupt police officials help. The sooner public policy recognizes that fact and goes after it, the sooner we'll make a dent in the real sources of border crime.

Oh, and it's true you can't corrupt bricks and mortar, but you can climb over it. Or fly over it. Or dig under it. Or knock through it. Or toss a bag of dope over the top. Yeah, the wall's really going to help, huh? Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

"The immigration problem could be solved overnight through a version of amnesty and rationalizing immigration quotas to match US labor demands."

Not sure exactly what you mean by that. Is that a guest worker program? And that A-word - that's gonna take A LOT of convincing for me, because I see it as rewarding illegal behavior.

Plus, I find it hard to believe that the "immigration problem could be solved overnight." It didn't become a problem overnight, and it seems to me it won't take any quick fixes to solve it (and yes, the wall as the major part of the immigration bill wasn't the smartest thing in the world. Maybe as part of several other of the initiatives that Congress discussed but eventually bailed on, but not as is).

Anonymous said...

There's really not an "immigration problem" except that right wing xenophobes don't want immigrants here, or at least brown-skinned ones (no wall to Canada, one notices). But US businesses need their labor. That's the problem: The needs of the economy and human rights vs. xenophobia, nothing else. So far xenophobia is winning in the political arena, but the economy is winning the game on the ground.

There's no good reason not to expand immigration quotas and let more immigrants become citizens. Virtually every problem the xenophobes complain about is a result of making immigration ILLEGAL, not an inherent problem with immigrants themselves.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Easy to solve it 'overnight' if you understand one thing: You can't stop immigration, you can only regulate it. Legalize them that's here, and expand quotas for annual entry to match US labor demand. Then move on to real problems. The other anonymous is right: This isn't one.

Glad to hear you're not TOO big a fan of the wall, anonymous1 - that's about the dumbest idea I ever heard of for a country to wall off a major river, and leave the river on the other side! And some Republicans wonder why they were voted out of power in Washington!

800 pound gorilla said...

No, but it's easier to blame problems on illegal immigrants than to either amorphous corporations run by abusive people or abusive drug policies designed to make "someone else's" lives miserable. It seems highly ironic that the GOP coined the term "blame game". I guess that they should know it from first hand experience!

Anonymous said...

In theory, I can see the reasoning for expanding immigration quotas to match labor demands. But that brings along with it a lot of problems.

First, many of the "labor demands" are based on current conditions - i.e., paying low wages to immigrant workers in many industries. So if you jack up immigration quotas, you have to do one of two things: A) allow these employers to keep paying these now-legal immigrant workers the same wages as before, or B) rigorously enforce minimum wage laws with these legal immigrants. Either path is fraught with problems, and if you choose the politically-correct B), then basic economics will force companies to cut back on hiring or close their doors altogether.

And let's be honest: do you think raising immigration quotas and amnesty programs will stop or severely curtail illegal immigration? History has proven that amnesty programs won't. And though raising immigration quotas (if done correctly) will allow more hard-working immigrants into the country, it would (and should) prohibit those of questionable moral character (i.e., criminals) from entering - forcing this latter group to do so illegally.
Plus, Mexico's problems are so rampant (and may only get worse) that no matter how high we raise the immigration quotas, there will still be more Mexicans who want to emigrate than will be allowed, which means - you guessed it - continued illegal entry.

I think it's inaccurate not to call immigration a problem. Granted I don't think it's a "security" problem (like xenophobes want us to believe), but it definitely has economic consequences. And from a broader persepctive, amnesty programs reward unwanted behavior - just like re-electing a self-proclaimed "tough on crime" judge who plays fast and loose with the law in order to jack up his conviction rate.

P.S. - anonymous2: don't paint ALL anti-immigration folks as xenophobes. That's like saying ALL immigrants are drains on American resources. Neither statement is true.