Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Sun, Oct. 20

Talk of the Town: Demand action on illegal immigration crisis

Jose Carranza, an illegal alien from Peru, turned himself in under the pressure of an exhaustive manhunt in the killing of three teens and the wounding of a fourth in New Jersey.

Carranza has an extensive criminal record, and police wanted him in several other violent crimes.

Authorities released him while awaiting trial in the brutal, repeated rape of a young girl for four years, from the time she was 5 until she was 9.

From 1977 until 2001, I worked for the United States Border Patrol on the busiest, most violent section of the border. When I started, only 1,200 Border Patrol agents in the entire country were dealing with an estimated 1.2 million illegal aliens. When I retired, we had 12,000 Border Patrol Agents and 12-15 million illegals.

I failed. We accomplished nothing.

Early in my career, the Border Patrol could arrest illegal aliens wherever we found them. We routinely checked transportation terminals, conducted city patrols and checked businesses and job sites in the interior. We were part of the Justice Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. We worked with state and local police, other federal law enforcement agencies and the criminal investigators of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The Clinton Administration put the Border Patrol on the border and eliminated its ability to work the interior. Part of the plan was successful, if only locally. Operation Gatekeeper almost shut down the San Diego corridor while making Phoenix the stolen car, residential burglary, methamphetamine and smuggling capital of the United States.

Part of the Clinton strategy was hiring thousands of criminal investigators to replace the departed Border Patrol presence in the interior. They didn't hire investigators and left the interior without immigration enforcement.

No administration in my memory, Republican or Democrat, has done squat on the illegal alien issue.

After Sept. 11 and creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Border Patrol combined with U.S. Customs to create Customs and Border Protection and Customs and INS Investigators joined to create Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Unfortunately, today, once aliens get past the Border Patrol they are basically home-free. The number of ICE agents in the interior is a joke.

We have no effective internal enforcement of immigration laws. With few exceptions when local law enforcement tells ICE it has an illegal in custody, ICE tells them to release the alien because is unable to respond.

Back to Mr. Carranza. I bet this is what happened. On his initial arrest, local police were unable to identify him as an illegal alien, or hold him as one, because ICE wouldn't respond. So they let him go. Even after they knew he was the brutal rapist of a child, he went back onto the street.

If the system worked, even if police didn't identify him as an illegal alien, ICE would have found out while doing a jail check. The ICE agent would have placed a hold on Carranza, and he would not get out even on bail, into the custody of anyone but the government. He would have been unable to shoot those four young people in New Jersey.

For the past 30 years I have seen this travesty repeatedly. The government has assumed that citizens are supposed to accept the cost of this

negligence.

Smuggling load drivers kill our families on the highways, drugs are destroying our children, and we're supposed to pay for aliens breaking into our homes, stealing our property and raping and murdering our children.

We must pay for our children to learn Spanish to accommodate people in the country illegally. We must pay increased taxes to house an enormous illegal alien prison population and pay for free health care for people who have broken the law to be here.

We need to eliminate the rule that only ICE agents can determine if someone's an alien. We need to empower police, at all levels, to check for legal status. "Passport, please?"

We need to control the border. We proved that it's possible in 1994 in San Diego. All it takes is political will.

I'm sick and tired of hearing politicians and pundits say it's too late to remove the illegal aliens already in the country. In 1954 we conducted Operation Wetback. We apprehended 70,000 illegal aliens while an estimated 400,000 got up and left. We could do it again. I know the mind of the Border Patrol Agents on duty today and they would jump at the opportunity.

Too many aliens and not enough agents, you say? Well, have you ever heard the old Texas Ranger motto of "One Ranger, One Riot?" We practiced it nightly down on the border.

It just takes will - something you can't have when we prosecute Border Patrol Agents for defending themselves and arresting vile smugglers and murderers.

We must demand an end to government neglect and demand a forceful, effective resolution of this crisis.

Ed Head retired as field operations supervisor of the U.S. Border Patrol. He now lives in Yavapai County.

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