Sunday, May 15, 2011
Wilmeth: Border Talk
Reckless Leadership Strategy
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
If the border discussions have done nothing else, they have elevated the sport of dissecting governmental interpretation of facts. The Administration’s speech in El Paso this week did little to disappoint the fans sitting in the bleachers anxious to open their playbooks for their decoders.
El Paso was again described as one of the safest cities in America. It’s a fact . . . but within a stone’s throw from the Chamizal where the speech was given lays Juarez . . . the most dangerous city in the world.
The apparent adversaries named in the speech, American citizens who are worried sick about the warp speed growth of their government, were chastised for even suggesting that the border is not safer than ever. It is a fact . . . the ratios are expanding. The civilian casualty rate across the border is currently running over 40 deaths a day while the American numbers are running under one casualty a day.
Illegal immigration control
In reviewing the speech, the emphasis of the benefits of illegal immigration outweighed any suggestion of the factors of risk. We were told that illegal immigration is good for our economy. Where in the world are the instructions in the decoder for that?
What we now know, though, is what illegal apprehensions will be for the year. At the current American unemployment rate of nine percent, the total apprehensions for all borders will land in the mid 500,000 range.
That total will be reduced by 100,000 if the unemployment rate increases to just over 10 percent. At rates above that, new and very safe results will be set!
The model Sectors
The results of the El Paso and Yuma Sectors over the last two years have not been lost on the administration. They have used them extensively to report to the American people the good job they are doing.
They have been modest in proclaiming the results have been better than in 30 years. They could have been more boastful and reminded us that their performance has been the best in 40 years. It is a fact.
What they don’t talk about, though, is the big hairy elephant on the border, the Tucson Sector. It is in the Tucson Sector where the apprehension rate, as computed by border mile year, is 17 times what is logged in the neighboring sectors. It is also there that records for deaths and drug activities have hit all time highs in the face of declining human smuggling.
The 80% factor
In the Tucson Sector, a strategy had to be implemented in order to deal with access to the border. The Border Patrol was not allowed unencumbered access to all lands within five miles of the border. They weren’t even allowed unencumbered access within 25 miles of the border in many places because of the presence of federal lands where they were constrained by law or policy interpretation and implementation.
The strategy used became an approach where a virtual net was installed to catch the illegals in a tiered interdiction methodology. The problem with a tiered approach, however, is a diminishing apprehension success rate as the distance from the border increases.
Recently, a new metric from the Border Patrol’s tiered strategy has been disclosed. It quantifies the results of human apprehensions as a relationship to distance from the border.
The Border Patrol has acknowledged that the actual results verify that with a five mile allowance 80% are being caught. By 25 miles the remaining are largely caught, but, beyond that point, the illegals have generally gained uncontested entry into the United States.
Decode the buffer numbers
On first blush, the tiered approach sounds effective. If the Border Patrol is catching 80% of illegals within five miles and the majority of the remaining within 25 miles, they are extremely efficient. The problem is apprehension numbers are not nearly as good as what the discussion implies.
Generally, the rate of apprehension is about 25% of the total number of illegals seeking entry into the United States. When the Border Patrol is disallowed access within those 25 mile buffers, effective control plummets. That is exactly why the flow of illegals is so overwhelming in Tucson compared to neighboring sectors. Tucson is dangerous because the federal government has created such a labyrinth of land management restraints that interdiction has been dramatically impaired.
A brave new world
When New Mexico’s senatorial delegation, Democrats Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, pushed their legislation for border wilderness in their state’s Dona Ana and Luna Counties, the message that came from their offices and the environmental fronts supporting the effort was quite different from what is being learned in Arizona. When Mr. Bingaman was finally pressed hard enough to acknowledge border security concerns, he widened the buffer between the border and the southern extension of the Potrillo Mountain Wilderness portion of the bill to five miles. The newly disclosed Border Patrol data can be used to calculate the results of his potential actions.
During the last two years the capture rate on the El Paso Sector border has been 54 apprehensions per border mile year or less. That success means that 162 border intruders were successful in breaching the border defenses and gaining entry into the United States. With only the five mile allowance in the Bingaman bill, the outcome of the designated wilderness would have reduced the apprehensions to 43 illegals per border mile within the footprint of the proposal. The others breaching the net in the new wilderness corridor would have been expected to be 173 since the remainder of the 25 mile buffer would have disallowed full, unencumbered access.
The Bingaman guarantee of safety to the American people would have been a decreased catch of 11 intruders per mile of border if all conditions held stable. What the nearest full fledged drug corridor with de facto wilderness managed conditions reveals, however, changes even that outlook of the Potrillos substantially.
The New Mexico Bootheel
The only Arizona class human and drug smuggling corridor outside of Arizona exists in New Mexico’s Bootheel 70 miles west of the Bingaman proposal. In that narrow corridor within the jurisdiction of the El Paso Sector, access has heretofore been reduced similarly to conditions in Arizona, and the numbers are far different from the rest of the sector’s results.
Because of the elevated activity there, the El Paso and Tucson Sectors have instituted a program of overlap of the responsible stations where the two sectors meet. There is a stretch of just over 30 miles of border patrolled by both sectors. The recent apprehension rate in that stretch is running 550 apprehensions per border mile on an annualized basis, or more than ten times the rate experienced on average across the entire El Paso Sector as a whole.
The retired Border Patrol officer association, NAFBPO, views the result as a simple reminder of why the Arizona corridors are so dangerous. They also counsel what should be expected in New Mexico if the Bingaman/ Udall border wilderness legislation is ever passed and wilderness management policies are installed in the Potrillos.
The pending danger that Americans now face is not just the chaos of conditions in the Bootheel and other corridors as they exist today. The pending danger is the hostility that is imminent if and when the now heavily defended corridors are retaken by the Border Patrol and or American forces. NAFBPO member, Gene Wood, assessed the problem.
“When those cartel controlled corridors are retaken . . . the pushback will likely become more violent.”
The people affected will include innocent American citizens. The pending conflict has huge implications. When legislation is proposed by Border State senators for conditions that have every characteristic to expand the illegal immigration problem . . . or when speeches such as those in El Paso this week are given . . . border residents wonder more and more what side of the conflict their leadership resides.
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher form southern New Mexico. “Americans should be equally worried about the character and motivation of illegal aliens breaching the border today as they are of the impact of the 11,314,836 illegal aliens who have successfully entered the United States since 2006.”