Border More Lawless, Rep. Ed Royce Learns

While Secretary of DHS Janet Napolitano continues to spread the Big Lie that the border is fine, no problem, a group of serious House Republicans, including Ed Royce, Steve King and Phil Gingrey, visited the area recently and heard from residents.

Rep. Ed Royce was interviewed February 1 about the trip on the John and Ken radio show, and it is an informative and timely report, more honest than anything on TV. The interview segment is about 15 minutes in length, and is well worth your attention.

LISTEN HERE.

Rep. Royce does not mince any words and explains his assessment of the bigger picture, one item of which is how open-borders extremists have done an effective job of recruiting credulous environmentalists to their side. “The open borders lobby is approaching every ally they’ve got, trying to work them up on one argument or another,” he observed.

Of course, illegal aliens and drug smugglers do tremendous damage to the border land with trash and millions of feet tromping through. But leftist environmentalists have convinced Washington that allowing Border Patrol agents into protected public land constitutes a bigger threat than hoards of violent Mexican drug smugglers (see Border Parks Defended against Invader-Friendly Rules).

When a group of ranchers was asked about Napolitano’s assessment of improved border security, they responded there was “more vandalism, more threats, it was worse,” as Royce described. The government’s current strategy appears to be better policing in the cities (hinted at in Napolitano’s speech with a close reading) which shunts the bad guys off into the countryside where their unlawful behavior is less likely to show up in crime stats.

Royce related several jaw-drop horror stories he heard. The 12-year-old daughter of a local businessman’s foreman was kidnapped for $80K ransom, but the case was never reported to police because the family feared they were in cahoots with the Mexicans. So the ransom was paid. In another situation, the cartels set up a high-tech communications relay station atop a local mountain, next to a rancher’s property, which was later removed by the Border Patrol.

Large swaths of territory 40 miles this side of the border are under the control of Mexican cartels for use as a staging area for their smuggling activities. Royce said straight out, that the violence from the Mexican side is “now spilling over the border on to US soil.” Now, not some vague time in the future.

The Congressman observed that Washington has “made a choice to tie the hands of law enforcement that could be a force multiplier on this, and they’ve made the choice to wind down Operation Jump Start which according to the Border Patrol, they swear by the effectiveness of that.” (Operation Jump Start refers to stationing the National Guard on the border, and investigative reporter Sara Carter has reported that those troops will be largely removed sometime in February.)

Referring to a new bill he is authoring, Royce aims to “establish operational control of the border and to do that, we’re going to prohibit the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture from interfering with the Border Patrol enforcement activities on federal lands.”

More information about Rep. Royce’s bill:

Rep. Royce plans to push national-level version of contentious Arizona immigration law, The Daily Caller, February 3, 2011

Rep. Ed Royce, California Republican, is planning to introduce a national-level version of contentious Arizona state Senate Bill 1070, The Daily Caller has learned. Royce, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade subcommittee, told TheDC his legislation would give state-level cops and local law enforcement nationwide the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

Royce is planning to introduce the new legislation soon and said, in addition to giving state and local law enforcement more authority, it “establishes operational control of the border” by sending more fencing to the border and keeping the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture from over-regulating how Border Patrol officials put together fences and work on federal lands.

“All the Border Patrol agents are swearing by it [building a fence and keeping the regulatory powers of the secretaries of Interior and Agriculture at a minimum],” Royce said. “So, that’s part of establishing operational control.”

The third major part of Royce’s legislation would require Homeland Security to review all visas from certain “high-risk” consulate posts. He said the bill would require DHS to “sit down face-to-face” with every visa-holder from these high-risk posts and re-interview them to make sure they’re in compliance.

“What we want to do is set up a system where we are able to make certain that, when people come into the country on a visa, we know when they’re leaving and we know if they’ve left,” Royce said. He also said the bill would allow DHS to “target” individuals from countries with a history of aiding or abetting terrorists.

Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, said he supports the idea behind what Royce is trying to do, but that he’d have to read the language of Royce’s legislation before he joins as a cosponsor.

“Congress needs to say to the Department of the Interior and to the other agencies that our natural resources and sovereignty are being trampled by illegal immigration,” King told TheDC. “We need to continue to build a fence, a wall and a fence. It makes every officer we have more effective.”

Royce, King and Rep. Phil Gingrey, Georgia Republican, just finished a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, and found a much different border security situation than Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the country about on Monday. Royce said people in border communities “all perceived a much higher level of violence than they’ve seen in the past, much more vandalism and many more threats.”

“Basically, what you have is a situation where smugglers are so well-armed now with assault rifles and high-tech equipment like GPS cell phones and scanners,” Royce told TheDC in a phone interview from Tucson, Arizona. “One of the examples we were given by the Border Patrol here is that they [drug cartel members] have set up their own communication relay stations into Mexico, and, as a result of all of this, it’s affecting kidnappings, businessmen and ranchers and farmers are all affected by this.”

Before a University of Texas at El Paso audience on Monday, Napolitano said that the border was safe and that border security critics are exaggerating border problems for political purposes.

“It is inaccurate to state, as too many have, that the border is overrun with violence and out of control,” Napolitano said in prepared remarks. “This statement – often made only to score political points – is just plain wrong.”

Documentarians and border security experts Stan Wald and Jerry Misner, who covered border issues in their documentary “Southern Exposure,” told TheDC that what Napolitano said is not even close to the real story of what’s going on along the border.

“From our standpoint, it’s not getting better [along the border], it’s getting worse,” Misner told TheDC.  “We make that assessment solely on the number of crimes, particularly drug trafficking, and criminals who illegal aliens are bringing north with them.”

Wald said that top-level administration officials and spokespeople have spun the storyline that the border is secure so that the administration can move forward with its “comprehensive immigration reform” plans, or what some consider amnesty for all illegal immigrants.

“If you talk to the boots on the ground, those who are out in the field, not management level and not supervisors, you get the real story, you get the truth,” Wald said. “If border towns were safe, Border Patrol agent Brian Terry wouldn’t be dead.”

Bandits who prey on illegal immigrants moving through southern Arizona shot and killed Terry while he was on duty in December 2010.

Royce also told TheDC that Border Patrol agents informed him of several “lookout points” drug cartels and smugglers have on the U.S. side of the border in Arizona, from which they communicate with their counterparts in Mexico to protect shipments of drugs, people and weapons, or whatever they’re smuggling, from Border Patrol and other U.S. law enforcement personnel.

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