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Permanent DHS Checkpoints Planned For Arizona Highways (special report - part 2)

Written by Subject: Arizona's Top News

As previously reported, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords organized a community meeting in Green Valley, Arizona last week to discuss the recent findings of a GAO study on interior Border Patrol checkpoints. Since federal officials have been trying to shove a permanent checkpoint down the throats of Southern Arizonans for years, this issue has been of great interest to many of us living in the state.

Checkpoint USA was on hand to record the meeting and is now making it available to the general public. This is part two of the meeting and highlights a presentation by Richard Stana with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Part one is available here:

In part one, I pointed out that the GAO presentation was misleading for the following reasons:

• It ignored fundamental facts regarding alien interdiction rates inside the country v the actual border.
• It misrepresented Border Patrol legal authority at interior checkpoints in comparison to the actual border.
• It brazenly concluded interior checkpoints are needed because ports of entry are designed to be purposefully ineffective so as to not overly burden border traffic and commerce.

In part two, GAO representative Richard Stana provides us with even more material to work with. The following points are highlights from the video:

• Smuggling operations have such a good intelligence network, they know within minutes when the operational status of a checkpoint has changed. Mr. Stana tries to spin this fact as showing how effective checkpoints are when in reality it shows the exact opposite. Interior checkpoints catch low hanging fruit and sacrificial lambs, not the well organized efforts of multi-billion dollar smuggling operations. 
• Mr. Stana forlornly points out that the Tucson sector is the only sector along the Southern border than doesn't have a permanent checkpoint. What he fails to point out at the same time is that nearly 50% of all alien interdictions in the country take place in the Tucson sector WITHOUT a permanent checkpoint, perhaps even because of the absence of a permanent checkpoint. 
• Mr. Stana discusses the differences between permanent checkpoints and tactical or temporary checkpoints and tries to claim tactical checkpoints cannot be operated 24/7 like permanent checkpoints. When one references Mr. Stana's 147 page GAO report however, we learn that at least one tactical checkpoint in Arizona has been operating at the same frequency as most permanent checkpoints around the country. Clearly, tactical checkpoints can be operated as frequently as permanent checkpoint but Mr. Stana didn't want facts (from his own report) to stand in the way of his conclusion. 
• Mr. Stana states that the permanent checkpoint being planned for I-19 in Southern Arizona will cost at least 25 million dollars. Mr. Stana makes no attempt to analyze the opportunity cost of diverting initial checkpoint costs and its yearly budgetary/manpower requirements from actual border operations. In fact, no where in the 147 page GAO report do the authors attempt to do a cost-benefit comparison to actual border operations. 
• Mr. Stana brazenly claims that interior checkpoint operations assist with border security operations because some illegal aliens and some contraband are discovered at interior checkpoints. Once again, Mr. Stana makes no opportunity cost analysis. Additionally by Mr. Stana's criteria, random house to house searches would also contribute to border security because such operations would find some aliens and some contraband material. That doesn't mean we should throw out the Constitution and Bill of Rights to do it. I should also point out that according to Mr. Stana in part one, Ports of Entry only attempt to interdict 30% of major illegal activity passing through them making it clear real border security isn't all that important to these same government bureaucrats pushing interior suspicionless checkpoints on the American people. 
• In order to justify internal checkpoints, Mr. Stana is more than happy to throw out statistics regarding the number of drug seizures made at internal checkpoints as a percentage of all Border Patrol drug seizures nationwide. What Mr. Stana fails to mention is that the majority of these vaunted 'drug busts' are in reality simple possession cases. Small amounts of marijuana used for medical or recreational purposes that federal prosecutors refuse to prosecute. You can find out more on this particular issue at:
• It's also interesting to note that Stana refrained from doing a similar analysis for the number alien interdictions. I had to dig through the 147 page report to find the pertinent information. Even then, I had to read the numbers off of various bar graphs. The results were dismal. Nationwide, interior Border Patrol checkpoints interdicted a mere 17,000 aliens out of more than 704,000 in 2008. This accounts for a mere 2.5% making it perfectly clear that border operations are far more effective at interdiction than interior checkpoints - especially when it takes more than 4% of Border Patrol resources to reach this number.

• Tucson sector numbers are even worse with 10% of sector agents only accounting for 0.5% of all sector interdictions. Given these numbers, it's clear the primary purpose of interior checkpoints is drug interdiction, not alien interdiction. Something the Supreme Court ruled illegal in City of Indianapolis v Edmond in 2000.

• Mr. Stana claims that interior checkpoints were responsible for interdicting three individuals associated with terrorists activities in 2008 but refused to give details. Absent details, it's hard to take Mr. Stana's claim seriously. Where are the facts? Where are the prosecutions? How did he define 'terrorist activity? What laws were the individuals charged with violating if any?

• Given the fact that the DHS Inspector General has reported that ICE's office of Detention and Removal has released over 45,000 individuals into the country while awaiting final deportation orders who originated from countries on terrorist watch lists and another 30,000 with criminal records, it's hard to take Mr. Stana's claim seriously without context. In other words, nothing more than scare tactics.

In summary, the second part of Mr. Stana's presentation was even more disappointing than the first. Mr. Stana went out of his way to ignore facts that undermined his conclusion that interior checkpoints are needed while artificially bolstering facts absent proper context that supported his position.

Part three of the meeting will follow shortly.

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