- - Sunday, August 26, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The same country that expects its all-volunteer soldiers to serve multiple tours in combat hell-holes also assumes that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agents will put themselves in harm’s way to protect our borders.

We voted for Donald Trump and the wall but idly wonder why those porous borders are suddenly overrun with refugees from Mexico to Bangladesh (150 of the latter arrested last week in Laredo). So we are shocked when Mollie Tibbets suddenly turns up dead in Iowa, far from the embattled border. And perhaps troubled because her story was eerily similar to the alien slaying of Kate Steinle, a steadily growing casualty list the only memorial for their grieving families.

Here’s why: Our current border is so porous that it invites daily intrusion by Mexican cartels and other trans-national criminal organizations. These cabals earn big bucks by moving drugs, weapons, various kinds of human cargo, counterfeit goods and (probably) terrorists among us.

Our internal security infrastructure is aptly described by President Trump as a disgrace, routinely overlooking malefactors who evade border controls or simply over-stay their visas. The only governing authorities over this hit-or-miss legal and regulatory hodgepodge are federal judges who care little about security on the border or anywhere else.

But there is little mystery that our governing classes on Capitol Hill deserve the lion’s share of the blame, Republicans and Democrats alike. A problem this bad and one that has endured for decades can persist only as an equal-opportunity, bipartisan, bicameral disaster.

The only real uncertainty: Will this legislative inattention endure until a WMD is detonated some weekend in a crowded shopping mall? To be scrupulously fair, we should begin by asking ourselves those probing questions since we elect those representatives in the first place.

Another obvious culprit is the press, routinely soft-peddling information about the cartels, even though they extend from Mexico into virtually every American neighborhood. The threat is usually minimized here in Texas, where most of the population has family ties on both sides of the 1,200-mile border shared by the Lone Star state with Mexico. Our local ABC affiliate, for example, is owned by the Graham Group, parent company of The Washington Post.

During a recent “special border series,” the station focused mostly on the humanitarian issues facing “undocumented immigrants” (not illegal aliens). The series anchor faithfully presented the prevailing politically correct verities:

• The Texas side of the Mexican border is safe (even if troubled by the regular discovery of drugs, safe houses and dead bodies);

• Those unfortunate immigrants are forced to endure a life-threatening gauntlet of hazards (including triple-digit heat and rattlesnakes) due to Washington’s prevailing gridlock; and

Mr. Trump’s emphasis on building the wall is misplaced nativism at best; and at worst just thinly disguised prejudice. Or even racism: Can’t we just all get along?

Even with open borders, Professor Jeffrey Addicott of St. Mary’s University Law School, has a less hopeful view. One of his clients, Gary Brugman, is a nine-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. Thereafter, Mr. Brugman served as a Border Patrol agent along the Rio Grande. Each night, he was part of the agent teams who detect and apprehend illegals. He even survived no-holds-barred fights with drug smugglers who played for life-and-death stakes against any threat to their livelihoods.

One memorable night, Mr. Brugman chased a large group of illegals for over a mile, arresting them and struggling to keep the group together. He even forced one illegal to the ground by placing his boot on the man’s back, exactly as Border Patrol agents are trained to do. But when the apprehension was over, Mr. Brugman’s troubles began with a complaint about “civil rights deprivation.”

In an astonishing turn of events for an agent with a clean record, Gary Brugman was tried, convicted and sentenced to a two-year term in federal prison. “I guess my worst mistake was trusting the system.” As a former agent, he survived his prison stint only through the protection of other inmates who lacked cartel connections.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, recently joined with several other congressmen, requesting that President Trump commute Mr. Brugman’s sentence as well as several other Border Patrol agents caught in similar difficulties.

But here is what may surprise you most: Gary Brugman’s case began in 2001 when George W. Bush was president, long before Barack Obama was even a gleam in the eye of liberal Democrats. As Mr. Rohrabacher pointed out in his petition, “We believe (these) agents were victims of politics” as the White House exchanged diplomatic signals about drugs and illegals with Mexico.

Imagine that: Innocent people victimized by a long tradition of government incompetence. And knowing that if the feds want to get you, they will.

• Ken Allard, a retired U.S. Army colonel, is a military analyst and author on national security issues.

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