A reader in the Southwest, responding to my item
about John Lehman and the INS, offers this insight:
I can give you my recent observations on an attempt to pass a piece of
legislation in Arizona called the Coyote Violence Reduction Act (CVRA).
Coyote, of course, is the term used for those persons who smuggle
non-citizens across the U.S. border.
Because being a coyote is now as profitable as being a drug smuggler, and
because there are far fewer laws against alien-smuggling, many drug
smugglers are using their existing infrastructure to smuggle aliens for fun
and profit. They are also using the violent tactics often used in drug
smuggling. They kill people, rip-off other coyote’s loads, abandon their
cargo to rot in the desert to save their own skin, etc. The main gist of the
Coyote Violence Reduction Act was to give state prosecutors power to disrupt
the alien smuggling business through the use of asset forfeiture laws: i.e.,
removing the financial incentive and the transportation vehicles would make
people less inclined to enter into the coyote business. Such laws exist at
the Federal level, but did not exist at the Arizona state level. Federal
enforcement was minimal. State law enforcement that came into contact with a
large van of illegals driven by a coyote with a big ‘ol sack of money really
couldn’t do anything if the feds didn’t have the resources or the interest
to immediately run right over and take control of the situation.
The bill, which would have provided several remedies to all prosecutors in
the state, was met with resistance. Hispanic legislators didn’t want to
completely end alien smuggling. They longed for the old days of the mom &
pop coyote that didn’t charge so much, wasn’t prone to violence and maybe
helped a hard working relative or two get into the country to earn a decent
wage for honest labor. On the other hand, they did not like the new
“corporate” drug smuggling culture coyote that demanded more money, stashed
aliens in safe houses by the hundreds, and was more violent and ruthless.
Law enforcement was also opposed mostly from the standpoint that the border
is a federal issue, the feds have the laws and the personnel, they should
take care of the problem. Local law enforcement felt overwhelmed by
enforcing state law and didn’t want to have to also be burdened with
enforcing what was covered by federal law. Because of these concerns,
ultimately what was passed was a watered down version of the CVRA. It gave
the Attorney General, but not county or municipal prosecutors, discretion to
enforce the law. There was also a mom & pop coyote exemption which
essentially said as long as you don’t smuggle too many aliens or make too
much money, the law didn’t apply.