I didn’t get any helicopter rides on my recent Arizona border trip (we passed on the official dog-and-pony show), but the problem of “outdated or ineffective” equipment is one the Border Patrol has faced for years in a whole range of areas. You see, it’s not a real security force like the Army or the FBI or the Coast Guard, or even the LAPD, so giving it hand-me-downs is not a problem. This has been most problematic with regard to fencing; for years, the little border fencing we had was made of Vietnam-surplus metal landing mats that were corroding and almost useless– as seen here (this is one of the many places where the fencing just ends). Things have improved a lot, as is clear from this photo. But there’s still a long way to go.
12. Subsidize private communications infrastructure and equipment expansion through installation of either new cellular telephone towers or other radio technology sufficient to ensure near-complete coverage so that citizens living or working in remote areas along the U.S. Border and especially along known smuggling corridors have the capability to contact law enforcement at any time as needed.
I’m not a fan of subsidizing anything private, but cell coverage isn’t great in much of southern Arizona, as should be obvious from this beautiful but desolate vista. There are lots of places without cell coverage, of course (heck, I barely get a signal a few miles outside Washington, D.C.), but people in the immediate vicinity of the Mexican border are vulnerable to foreign threats in a way that someone in, say, eastern Montana or northern Alaska is not. What’s worse, there are signs like this all around that basically tell people they’re on their own because “smuggling and/or illegal entry is common in this area due to the proximity of the international border.” The least the feds could do is facilitate better cell coverage so that a rancher out repairing his fence can call the Border Patrol in an emergency.
13. Establish Citizens Advisory Boards in every Border Patrol Station and cooperate with rancher liaison groups within each Station to address security issues in rural areas of the Sector.
This is a commonsense component of community policing but not a standard practice for the Border Patrol. The ranchers I met in Nogales told me they had a good relationship with the current area chief, but it’s basically by chance — this kind of thing needs to be institutionalized.
14. Establish seamless border enforcement from Florida all the way to San Diego without jurisdictional gaps occurring in areas between Border Patrol Sectors.
Just as shift-change can be a time when things fall between the cracks, the same can happen where different Border Patrol sectors or stations (the component parts of sectors) meet.
15. Increase the number of additional Arizona Horse Patrol Units, and fund them appropriately.
As is obvious from the mountain vista above, there are large parts of the Mexican border — and not just in Arizona — that are not car-friendly. Horses give the Border Patrol access to places even all-terrain vehicles have a hard time reaching.
16. Streamline the federal claims process for recovering damages caused by illegal alien burglaries, vandalism and ranch infrastructure/livestock losses, including damage to range resources, livestock, and losses from fires on both private and public lands attributable to the activities of illegal Border crossings.
17. Adequately fund State and Federal Attorneys’ Offices to assure timely prosecution of Border related offenses.