“Trump’s Wall is a Scam,” says this former Border Patrol Agent

Published on Crooks & Liars on 3/3/2017.

Most Americans have no knowledge of what our southern border with Mexico looks like. They’ve never lived here nor have they visited. The majority of Americans, especially those who voted for Trump, have based their opinions in regards to border issues and immigration solely on the lies being fed to them by this administration. Trump’s border wall is simply a political ruse.

Jenn Budd-Senior Patrol Agent Campo Station, Intel Agent San Diego Sector

I personally worked on the border day and night for six years. After completing the Border Patrol academy, I was assigned in November of 1995 to Campo Station located in the mountains just east of San Diego. Upon first glance, I was shocked to discover that our station didn’t even have a building. We had one double wide trailer and one old garage with an asbestos ceiling that had been converted into a processing center. That meant it had a long table, six or so folding chairs and two jail cells that were nothing more than some chain link fencing with a lock on the door. Only the three supervisors and the Patrol Agent In Charge of the station had a computer. Agents either hand wrote the I-213’s that allowed us to immediately return the Mexican immigrants to Mexico, or we had to use a typewriter to fill out formal deportation and other criminal paperwork.

My field equipment consisted of an awesome pair of binoculars, one pair of handcuffs, a baton, a .357 revolver that carried six bullets, a radio that didn’t work most of the time because we were in the mountains and a lifted 4×4 Bronco. We worked alone, sometimes one agent for a good twenty or so square miles. Many nights we left the station on foot because we didn’t have enough gas to fill our trucks. We were used to being on foot anyhow as that is how we worked; sign cutting, tracking, footprints through the mountains until we caught whatever it was we were following. Sometimes it was drugs, sometimes a group of underage girls being smuggled for sex work or the occasional group from China or Peru. But most of the time, it was families coming here to look for work. Any work would do.

Today’s fence:

Campo did not have a fence when I started working there. We never had to sit for an entire shift and stare at that God awful obstruction like the agents in town had to. And for that, we were thankful. But it wasn’t very long before it made it’s way up to Tecate, CA which is where our western border with the next station started. It would take years to get through our entire assigned area, to our eastern border with Boulevard, CA.

East County San Diego Mountains I would climb every day. By Rsduhamel at English Wikipedia

In the beginning, it seemed like a logical concept. There’s a border here and the only thing designating it as such was four strings of barbed wire that ran the line through our whole territory. As a young agent, I was in favor of such a wall. I had yet to develop my liberal streak and distaste for the work I was doing. But I knew even then that the Army Corps of Engineers would not be able to build the metal wall completely across our area. Campo was known for it’s high mountain peaks and rocky terrain. Sometimes the border fell directly on a giant boulder, sometimes it traveled through a deep crevasse that traveled north and south and would carry water during heavy rains. There is even a railroad tunnel that travels north and south. The border is actually half way through the creepy tunnel. But at the very least, it seemed as though it would help us narrow down the spots were people could cross illegally. Back in the mid to late 90’s, they were crossing by the hundreds every night. Our border was porous then, and we simply had to do the best we could with what we had.

It was President Clinton that began hiring agents as fast as possible. He was also responsible for the fence being funded and built. This is the same fence you see now. And though it made life more difficult for the smugglers, it only slowed them down and made our lives more dangerous. It took them years to finish. It took smugglers only days to figure out how to get around it.

Sometimes they would cross right across the top of it assuming we would not be looking for foot sign there. Other times they’d cross the fence in the most predictable places; places that the fence couldn’t cross. Those groups tended to be used to draw us away from the other traffic that was crossing. It was a brilliant and easy plan: cross where the agents always look, tie us up on those groups and smuggle drugs in another area. By the time we would figure out the game, they’d moved on to another.

Often tunnels were dug to get under the fence. Some opened up into warehouses in San Diego. Some in Campo popped up in the farm or ranch houses that existed along the border. I’ve seen smugglers take blow torches to the fence and cut a huge hole in it. I’ve even witnessed a truck with a car carrier frame on it, pull up to the fence on the Mexican side, lower a ramp over to the U.S. side. Then a truck would just ride the car carrier up and over. This was generally done by the drug smugglers. The vehicle would then sped off through the winding border dirt roads. Rule of thumb was that once you discovered their tactic, you could bet that they’d been doing it a long time and that they would then move on to something else.

By Aykleinman – Own work (Original text: self-made), Public Domain

From an agent’s point of view, the worst part of the fence was that we could not see the other side. I’ve seen in other areas of the southern border where there is a more vertical fence style with thin gaps allowing agents to see to the south. In Campo, the fence was solid metal with no openings save the areas where the terrain dictated it. This was extremely dangerous. When people ask me what was the scariest, hair raising thing I did while I was in the Border Patrol, my answer is always working the fence.

We would have to drive the border road, along the fence, continually looking for crossings. If I was driving east, this meant my vehicle was right up against the fence and I was looking north along the road. Since we worked alone, I could not watch to see if someone was hanging over the top to throw rocks or shoot at me and look for foot traffic at the same time. If I was traveling west, I was facing the fence. Sign cutting from a vehicle required me to hang my head slightly out the open window, thus fully exposing me.

I was rocked numerous times. I had a small dog thrown at me. Another time it was a human head that hit the hood of my truck. I watched in shock as the spine that was still attached broke away from the head after landing. I was even shot at multiple times from the Mexican side. And no, we were not allowed to shoot back into Mexico.

That fence was a hazard to every agent and Trump’s wall will be worse.

Agents lives will unnecessarily be placed in danger. Smugglers will simply build a taller ladder, dig underneath it or cross where there is no wall because of the terrain. As soon as they finish one stretch and move on, it will be knocked down by the smugglers. You would have to have millions of Border Patrol agents to be able to keep a visual on the entire line. That’s how rough the terrain is. If Trump thinks he can build a wall through these tunnels and rivers, he is sorely mistaken. It is not possible without causing floods or blowing up boulders. That tunnel I mentioned would have to be torn down. Trump’s wall is simply not a realistic solution. It is merely a repeat of what has already been done.

Additionally, Trump lied in regards to how porous the border is now. Currently there is a loss of immigrants. There has been since the economy collapsed. Less jobs here and a better economy in Mexico allowed many immigrants to return home.

Trump has also refused to admit that the majority of immigrants are hard working, law abiding people. He has further told his supporters that undocumented workers are using the system when in fact many pay taxes through an IRS taxpayer ID system. This was set up so that they could pay taxes in the event an amnesty came around. If the government is willing to take their money, they should be willing to work with them on a more sympathetic level.

So why would he lie about the need for a wall?

Because the Trump wall is just another political ploy for votes. Anger gets people to vote, and he is a racist, xenophobe like many of his followers. Immigrant bashing is just another red meat issue for them to get worked up over and something they know very little about. This was a plan from day one, from the moment he announced his candidacy. It was classic authoritarian dogma: refer to undocumented Mexicans as rapists, drug dealers and murders, claim they are everywhere in the U.S. just waiting to assault you and your family, waiting to take your jobs, then your homes and anything else they can. Undocumented Mexican workers are his scapegoat. It only took a little ignorance on the part of most Americans who do not know any Mexican families, anything about the border nor a thing about immigration.

And for what it’s worth, I was never afraid of the Mexican immigrants I came across at three in the morning on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. I was afraid of that fence. And though I could not in good conscience continue with the Border Patrol, I do feel we need to protect the border. Just not in a Stalin-esque way. I also do not believe in labeling an entire race of people as criminals and deporting those who’ve been working here for years.

A real immigration plan would involve supporting the existing systems, amnesty and citizenship for those who have been working and living here and have no criminal histories, a worker visa program for businesses that need the labor and actual punishments for businesses that hire undocumented workers.

Another wall is just a political scam and waste of taxpayer money.

 

 

How Trump’s big fat racist mouth could put another nail in his coffin.

Published on Crooks & Liars on 3/1/2107.

Vicarious liability is a legal term defined as, “The tort doctrine that imposes responsibility upon one person for the failure of another, with whom the person has a special relationship, to exercise such care as a reasonably prudent person would use under similar circumstances.” 1

In 1988, two young American men beat to death Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian graduate student. Mulugeta’s only crime, according to them, was his skin color. As it turned out, these men were members of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), a white supremacist group founded by neo-Nazi and KKK grand dragon, Tom Metzger. Metzger began his racist career in 1979 by patrolling the U.S./Mexican border in San Diego as a private citizen stating he was concerned about illegal immigration. When he began hosting a television show aimed at white nationalism, his anti-immigrant stance quickly became an anti-anything not white, Christian and male. Additionally, he sponsored a rock concert for Aryan youth which is how the Seraw killers were introduced to his racist gutter spewed antics. 2

The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Metzger using the vicarious liability concept and won. The court found that because Metzger was an authority figure, had access to media and espoused racist propaganda and that these young men claimed to be influenced by him, he was also liable for Seraw’s death.

Because of the Metzger decision, many of today’s white supremacist websites try to stay clear of suggesting violence. But an argument can easily be made that their readers are obviously being influenced by such talk (written word) by simply scrolling through the comments section or chatlines these sites maintain. Here you will routinely find comments to articles published by said websites not only condoning but advocating for violence against non-whites.

On June 17, 2015, Dylaan Roof entered the Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina and proceeded to murder nine African American parishioners and injure three others. He later testified that he was influenced by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) website. On the CofCCC website, Roof read article after article stating falsely that blacks were killing and raping whites at alarming numbers. CofCC denied responsibility, but one only has to look at their website and see that they were openly advocating a race war. Republican politicians who had spoken at CofCC events quickly tried to distance themselves from the group and were forced by public outcry to return thousands of dollars in campaign donations by the president of the CofCC, Earl Holt.

The argument against hate speech:

Essentially, I am advocating for a restriction on free speech. But what about the 1st Amendment you ask? I’m in agreement with the 1st Amendment up until the point it physically harms individuals. The popular expression that you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire is an example of reasonable 1st Amendment restrictions. Charles Manson telling his followers to kill innocent people is another. The Metzger decision was an extension of this decision.

Today’s hate speech is spread through websites. Victor C. Romero of Penn State Law argued in the “Columbia Human Rights Law Review” that censorship of the 1st Amendment should be considered when three criteria are met:

  1.  The message is of racial inferiority.
  2.  The message is directed against a historically oppressed group.
  3. The message is persecutorial, hateful and degrading. 3

He continues, “There are, nonetheless, two essential harms wrought by hate speech that require redress, one direct and one indirect. Each hateful message displayed on white supremacist websites aims to put the person of color in her place and reinforces the current American racial caste system, which consciously or unconsciously, promotes the idea that non-whites are inferior to whites. The second harm is an indirect one: people of color are indirectly harmed by the white supremacist website because of its cast-efficient nature as a propaganda disseminator, leading to the increased risk that hateful speech might turn into hateful acts.” 4

The case against Trump:

People have the right to free speech. They also have the right to say things that are deemed hate speech, but only as private citizens and only if that speech does not hurt anyone else. It is when they advocate such speech into action as public persons, persons of influence, persons that meet the criteria as set forth in the definition of vicarious liability that they then become liable. The Supreme Court has stated that “public figures are those who have a more prominent societal role and greater access to the media than private figures…”

Trump fits this profile. He has been a public figure since the 1980’s. He ran for president, and is now the president of the United States. You cannot get more public than that.

Trump began his presidential bid with racist speech when he stated that Mexican immigrants were drug dealers, rapists and murderers. Then he called for a Muslim Ban because he believed that only Muslims could be terrorists. He attacked a Muslim Gold Star family and assumed that the wife was not allowed to speak simply because she was a woman when the truth was that she was overcome by grief. He claimed that African American communities are filled with drug dealers and murderers to the extent that people cannot walk down the street without being shot. He refused to denounce David Duke, the most famous living KKK leader. He started the birtherism movement against our first African American president, claiming that Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen. In November 2015, Trump condoned the beating of a Black Lives Matter Protester at his Alabama rally stating that is was “justified.” When other supporters beat up a homeless Hispanic man, his response was that they were “passionate.” He told supporters at rallies to “knock the crap out of them,” and then offered to pay their legal fees. He repeatedly shared anti-Semitic tweets during the campaign. He also claimed that a federal judge hearing the Trump University case could not be unbiased towards him because the judge was “Mexican.” Justice Curiel was in fact born and raised in the U.S.

By American Freedom Party – https://www.facebook.com/A3rdPosition, Public Domain

Furthermore, the Trump campaign had a known white supremacist as a delegate during the 2016 Republican National Convention. William Daniel Johnson is the chairman of the American Freedom Party, which began in 2010 in response to the election of Barack Obama. When media easily recognized him as a white supremacist leader, the campaign quickly asked him to decline the delegate position. He did decline, but that didn’t stop Trump from accepting $4, 125 from Johnson in campaign donations after the convention. Trump further accepted $5,800 in advertising and robo calls in which Johnson claimed presidential candidate Evan McMullen was a homosexual.

But Trump’s racist history goes back much further. In the 80’s his company was sued twice by the U.S. government for not allowing African Americans to rent apartments in his buildings. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined him $200,000 for requiring African American employees to leave the floor of his casino whenever high roller racist clients were present. His own president of Trump Plaza Hotel, John O’Donnell, wrote in a tell all book that Trump called black people “lazy.” Trump even stated in 1997 interview that O’Donnell’s statements about him were “probably true.”

Then there’s the case of Trump taking out a full page ad in a New York paper to call for the execution of the Central Park Five. Even though it was much later determined that all of the five young African American men were innocent and that their confessions were coerced, Trump still maintained that they were guilty and continues to do so today.

As president, Trump continues to race bait and advocate systemic racism by signing blatantly racist executive orders like the Muslim Ban and repeatedly saying that immigrants are “bad people.” Currently, on Trump’s orders, ICE is rounding up Hispanic immigrants and holding them in private prisons for deportation. He’s stated that they are only rounding up drug dealers, rapists and murderers but that is a lie. Arrests have included a mother of three and a woman in the hospital with a brain tumor. Incidentally, those private prisons gave Trump large contributions to his campaign. The GEO Group, one of the two major private prison companies, also gave him $250,000 for his inauguration party.

Even Trump’s administration is full of white supremacists, anti-immigrant fanatics and anti-LGBT pushers. Vice President Mike Pence is a rabid anti-LGBT bigot. Not only does he support any and all legislation against LGBT, he even tried to jail LGBT persons for simply applying for a marriage license. Tom Price, director of Health and Human Services, is another ardent ant-LGBT activist. In 2006, he voted for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, against hate crime laws and against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s senior counsel, is the former executive director of Breitbart. An anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic white supremacist website. Michael Flynn, former disgraced national security adviser, tweeted that fearing Muslims was rational and that the Islamic world has a “diseased component.”

Jeff Sessions, attorney general, was denied a judgeship in the 80’s because congress deemed him too racist. Stephen Miller, senior white house adviser, was a former Sessions adviser. Miller met Richard Spencer, the leader of the white supremacist “alt-right” movement, at Duke University. He wrote articles against multiculturalism and denied systemic racism. Steve Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, was accused during the mortgage crisis of foreclosing on minority owned houses and lending to white owned homeowners versus those of color.

Julie Kirchner, chief of staff of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is the former executive director of FAIR, Federation of Americans for Immigration Control. Whereas Kris Kobach, Trump’s immigration adviser, is legal counsel to FAIR. FAIR was founded by white supremacist and eugenicist John Tanton. Tanton and FAIR members believe that whites are losing power and numbers due to too much immigration. They claim U.S. security and jobs as their only concern. But according to the SPLC, FAIR and its members are closely associated with Jared Taylor, white nationalist leader and founder of American Renaissance, and Kevin MacDonald, an anti-Semitic professor who writes the Occidental Quarterly racist rag.

According to the SPLC, there have been 900 plus hate crimes reported since the beginning of the Trump campaign. 40% of those crimes have “specifically involved Trump’s name or his election slogans.”  5

Every day we are hearing about bomb threats being called into synagogues, Hispanics being told by Trump supporters to go back to their countries and people of color being asked for their papers. Just this last week, Srinivas Kuchibhotta was murdered by a white American who yelled, “Go back to your country,” before taking his life and injuring two others. Locally, we are witnessing Trump supporters picketing outside our mosques, calling members of our Islamic community and their children terrorists. None of these incidents have been denounced by Trump.

Additionally, white supremacist websites, journals and radio shows are praising the Trump election as their second coming. KKK and Aryan groups have held parades supporting Donald Trump. They have openly stated that they support him because he supports their cause to make America an all white nation.

Trump always claims to be the “least racist” or the “least anti-Semitic” or to love “the blacks.” But you only have to look at his past and his current actions of race baiting, his white supremacist administration and his anti-immigrant executive orders to know the truth. And these hate groups know it too. Leaders set examples of acceptable behavior. Trump is telling white America is is acceptable to hate and justified to commit acts of violence against people of color by his rhetoric, his executive orders and by his silence when such acts are perpetrated in his name.

Trump is THE authority figure, has access to every kind of media we engage in and espouses racist propaganda on a daily basis. Those who are victims of these hate crimes should seek restitution not only from the perpetrators but from their leader via vicarious liability.