When it comes to keeping federal entities like Customs and Border Protection at bay, individuals and communities in Washington State continue to lead the way. Below you'll find two articles regarding a Port Townsend, Washington resolution calling for a moratorium on Border Patrol activity in their community until the agency's un-American enforcement practices can be reviewed (and exposed for what they are).
Additionally, you'll find two videos of a Port Townsend City council meeting related to the recent resolution below. Following the videos and articles are links to several additional blog entries regarding Border Patrol activity no where near the border in Washington State.
City of Port Townsend seeks 'suspension' of Border Patrol activities here; 6-1 vote asks Obama, Congress to review legality, 'opportunity costs' of checkpoints and other tactics
By Barney Burke of The Leader
The Port Townsend City Council is sending a resolution to President Obama and Congress asking for a suspension of expanded U.S. Border Patrol on the Olympic Peninsula pending a review of the utility and legality of those practices.
Adopted 6-1 on June 1 with Laurie Medlicott voting "no," the resolution also calls for "a reformed approach toward securing our border which focuses on interdiction at the border, preserves constitutional protections and respects local law enforcement."
Jackie Aase, chairwoman of the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County, was the first of 10 speakers on the issue Monday night. She had just returned from the organization's state convention in Tacoma. As a result of that meeting, the league's state organization is lobbying its national group to lobby Congress to investigate the policies of the Border Patrol, she said.
"Most people hadn't heard of what was going on over here," Aase said of checkpoints operated on Olympic Peninsula highways last year. That practice - and the practice of contacting people in churches, on buses and in other locations - has been opposed by locals who feel the Border Patrol is not operating within the confines of the Constitution.
Port Townsend resident Carl Nomura spoke of losing his citizenship and being sent to an internment camp during World War II because he is a Japanese American. "I personally have been victimized by the 'reverse law,'" he said, "guilty until proven innocent.
"Why not let them have a better life," said Nomura of granting amnesty to people who have not immigrated here legally.
After 9/11, Nomura continued, he was "profiled" for having brown skin when he tried to board an airplane. "Everybody there was brown," he said of the people detained prior to boarding.
Also addressing the council was Andrew Reding, who works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's asylum program, speaking as a private citizen. Reding said he believes in the agency's goal of stopping terrorism, and much of his job is making sure asylum seekers aren't terrorists. But deporting illegal immigrants is "cruel and heartless," he said.
Taymere Perkins spoke up for the Border Patrol and tough immigration policies. He said it's important to make sure immigrants are not criminals, have a means to support themselves, and are free of infectious diseases. His wife immigrated to the United States legally, he noted.
Councilor David King called the resolution "reasonable," noting it does not presume to dictate policy to the federal government, asking only for a review and then a revised policy.
"It's difficult if not impossible to disagree with those sentiments," Medlicott said of the resolution. She said it would be more appropriate to put the issue on the ballot. "If there were no legal way for immigration to occur, I would feel differently."
Mayor Michelle Sandoval, who is of Mexican descent, got choked up as she talked about her 17-year-old son and what it means to have brown skin in America.
"This is really about our Fourth Amendment rights," Sandoval said, "not a partisan issue." She recalled President Eisenhower's speech on the impacts of the rising "military industrial complex" when he left office in 1961. "What he predicted has come true in many ways," she said.
Border Patrol responds
Jaime Castillo, public affairs officer for the Blaine Sector Headquarters of the Border Patrol, said Tuesday no highway checkpoints have been conducted since September 2008. Checkpoints are one of several tools the agency uses, he said.
Asked why the local checkpoints have stopped, Castillo said: "The checkpoints are intelligence-driven. They are based on information that we get from other law enforcement agencies. We don't just randomly set them up."
Castillo said checkpoints are "coordinated" with Washington's DOT and State Patrol to ensure safety. Port Townsend Police Chief Conner Daily and then-Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Brasfield made headlines last fall when they said their agencies would respond to calls for emergency assistance but otherwise would not work in concert with the Border Patrol.
Castillo said the Border Patrol wants to understand citizens' concerns and operate in a manner that is "transparent."
"One thing we definitely are committed to is engaging with the community so they can understand our mission," Castillo said of outreach efforts.
Deterring and apprehending terrorists is a primary part of that mission, Castillo said, in addition to its "traditional role" of "apprehending individuals seeking to enter our country illegally." Also, the mission includes "apprehending and deterring smugglers of humans, drugs and other contraband."
Asked to comment about the City Council's resolution on Tuesday morning, Castillo said, "We're going to continue our mission of securing our borders," which includes "pushing our borders out" by working with other law enforcement agencies to gather intelligence to prevent illegal crossings.
By Erik Hidle
Peninsula Daily News
June 1, 2009
PORT TOWNSEND -- The city of Port Townsend is officially asking for a halt to Border Patrol activity in the area so policies in place can be reviewed.
The council approved a resolution expressing legal and policy concerns over the expansion of Border Patrol activity on "the Peninsula."
The document specifically raises concern over the random checkpoints conducted along Highway 101 in 2008.
City Attorney John Watts said the resolution raised the concerns expressed from council members and urges elected officials to look at reforming the policy under which Border Patrol operates.
The resolution passed with a vote of 6-1.
Councilwoman Laurie Medlicott was the lone dissenter, saying she did not believe the resolution spoke for the whole community.
The resolution is addressed to President Barack Obama, members of the House of Representatives and Senate, the state Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire.
Councilman Mark Welch said while he was reluctant to get involved with federal policy, he was calling on the Benjamin Franklin quote, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Welch said he felt "that quote is particularly germane in this instance."
Before the vote, 10 members of the community spoke on the resolution, mostly in favor.
Carl Nomura, who spoke of his time in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, said he saw many parallels in the current activity of Border Patrol.
"The law of the land is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty," Nomura said.
Speaking as the lone voice against the resolution was Taymer Perkins.
"My wife is a legal immigrant," Perkins said.
"She was checked for several things when she came here. They made sure she carries no harmful infections, she has no criminal history, and she has a means to make it when she gets here.
"It's not the law that once you get in here the authority of the federal government ends."
Councilman George Randels referenced the oath of office administered to new council member Kris Nelson earlier in the night as a response.
"[It says] to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America," Randels said.
"That's where we start. That's part of our job."
Before the vote, Mayor Michelle Sandoval shared an emotional moment with the more than 20 members of the community who came to the meeting.
"I'll just say that I feel very much that if I have brown skin, and I do . . .I feel that I shouldn't even in a joking manner have to tell my son, who is very hispanic-looking, the he might get stopped," she said.