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Permanent DHS Checkpoints Planned For Arizona Highways (special report - part 8)

Written by Subject: Arizona's Top News

Part 8 of a 14 part video series highlighting a town hall meeting organized by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords appears above. The meeting was held on September 2, 2009 in Green Vally, Arizona to discuss/debate a recent GAO report on internal suspicionless homeland security checkpoints.

In this video, members of the audience continue to express their concerns regarding the GAO report and the proposed permanent homeland security checkpoint planned for I-19 South of Tucson. Bruce is the first person from the audience to speak in this video. Highlights from Bruce's comments appear below: 
* Ports of Entry along the Southern border should be upgraded and expanded before internal checkpoints are considered
* The speaker indicates he is appalled at the lack of Border Patrol accountability displayed in this and other GAO reports. He references a GAO report that indicated 43%, or $152,000,000, of the Border Patrol's annual budget for recruiting, hiring and training was unaccounted for.
* The speaker highlights various sections of the GAO report indicating data limitations hindered the usefulness of the report, accountability was hindered by information gaps and reporting issues, and inconsistent data collection methodologies hindered the GAO's ability to monitor the need for improvements
* The report failed to compare internal checkpoint operations with other Border Patrol operations that don't involved stopping and seizing individuals absent suspicion at internal checkpoints.
* The speaker references another section of the report that concludes checkpoint seizure rates have little relationship with their effectiveness because the numbers aren't being compared to the level of illegal traffic passing through ports of entry.

Representative Giffords asked Richard Stana from the GAO to respond to the speaker's comments. Stana stated the biggest problem the GAO ran into regarding the report was the inconsistent methodologies different Border Patrol units used to gather data making it impossible to correlate data between different checkpoints and different sectors.

Stana went on to say he wanted to conduct comparisons between different checkpoint operations but made no mention of comparing checkpoint operations to actual border operations. As I've pointed out elsewhere, doing so would have undermined the GAO's predetermined conclusion regarding this report by clearly showing that border operations are more than ten times more effective at apprehending and interdicting illegal traffic than internal checkpoints.

After Stana finished responding to the speakers comments, Sam from the checkpoint study group rose to speak. Sam indicated that even though the GAO claimed to have a hard time correlating soft data to come to any useful conclusions, there was plenty of hard data available in the form of assaults, murders, kidnapping and rapes down along the border as evidenced by data from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office. Sam went on to indicate it made little sense to move scarce border security resources off the 265 miles of border in the Tucson sector. Doing so would create a much larger patrol area inside the country with a new Northern border defined by the location of various internal checkpoints.

GAO representatives also responded to Sam's comments by acknowledging the fact that violent crime along the border was indeed increasing but the causes and effects were hard to correlate. What the GAO failed to acknowledge was that the Border Patrol is in many ways ignoring violent crime along the border by placing so much emphasis on internal checkpoints many miles to the North of where much of the violence is taking place.

Part 9 will continue on with more feedback from the audience. Links to part 1 through 7 of this video series appear below:   

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