I despise the United States Border Patrol. One-hundred miles from the U.S. Border, the entire U.S. border, they are a law unto themselves, in what the ACLU refers to as a "constitution free zone," that encircles the entire contiguous United States.
They regularly treat U.S. citizens with contempt. This, despite the fact that the average Border Patrol agent is as dumb as a bag of hammers. And Lord help you if you have a little melanin in your flesh. The assumption will be that you are a criminal until proven otherwise.
I've seen the way these green goons treat people at Border Patrol checkpoints, whether an individual is white, brown, black or whatever. They run wild on the Tohono O'odham Nation, acting like a federal police force, though the O'odham's have their own police force, obviously.
In the desert, they regularly collaborated with baby-killing neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, despite evidence that Ready and his fellow swastika-lickers were unlawfully detaining and restraining migrants.
Hey, by any means necessary, right? That should be the BP's motto.
If you're a member of the press, obtaining standard info from them is a major pain. The MCSO is more forthcoming, for crying out loud. Far more forthcoming.
So the BP's recent treatment of 96 year-old former Arizona governor and ex-U.S. ambassador to Argentina Raul Castro is certainly no surprise. Stopped at a BP checkpoint on I-19, they handled Arizona's only Hispanic governor as a "nuclear threat," apparently because he had received a medical treatment the previous day that involved some radiation.
We were sent to secondary inspection and were asked to step out of the car. When they asked the governor to stand under the tent, I asked if he could remain seated in the air-conditioned car because it might be too hot for him. The agents said he could not and that they had a fan under the tent.
I explained to the agent he had undergone a medical treatment the previous day and it must be the solution that set off their system. They said he had to stay under the tent, in 100-degree hear, while dressed in a suit. They offered him a chair. I felt totally frustrated and I was worried about the governor.
I explained that he was a former governor and ambassador a true statesman and that he was 96 years old and that he shouldn't have to be going through this. They knew it was the medical procedure that was coming us on their radar.
At that point I was begging them to leave him alone. They brought out a document for him to fill out and sign. They had a machine they ran up and down his body front and back. Finally they released us and as we were walking back to the car they stopped him and said they had to see his identification. We were standing out in the sun, by this time, and Gov. Castro reached for his identification and showed it to the agent, they registered the information they needed from his identification and they released us, again.
I was helpless and overwhelmed by the incident. I felt the agents had no regard for the governor's background or age or physical condition. I was embarrassed as I watched the governor being needlessly treated like a nuclear threat, especially because they knew he had just had a treatment at Tucson Heart Hospital the day before. I felt he was being disrespected as a senior citizen, much less the amazing statesman that he is.
After all of this chaos in the Arizona heat I thought it was interesting that the agents never asked me for my identification, and I was driving the car. Maybe I was the nuclear threat.
The Border Patrol's response to the revelation that they held a frail, 96 year-old man in the 100 degree heat for no reason whatsoever?
Not even a "sorry."
In an e-mail to Arizona Republic reporter Daniel Gonzalez, the BP simply rationalized its inexcusable actions, essentially calling Castro, his wife, and Doan liars in the process, asserting that the ex-governor was held for 10 minutes instead of 45.
Castro told Gonzalez, "Once I identified myself, who I was, and that I had been to the doctor, I was under medical care, I have a pacemaker on my heart, (I would have thought) that they would have been more considerate and said, 'Keep on going.' But that didn't happen."
Castro has a lot more class than the Border Patrol. He's not even filing a complaint about the incident.
Maybe that's because it happens all the time. When I interviewed Castro at his home in Nogales, Arizona, for a 2009 column, he discussed how the BP had been making assumptions about him ever since his days as a judge. Here's a bit of what the governor had to say:
But being a judge was no guarantee against what we now call racial profiling. One Saturday, as Judge Castro was painting the fence on his small Tucson ranch, where he kept a horse farm, the U.S. Border Patrol rolled up. Castro was dressed in old Levi's and a sombrero, doing the chores his wife had asked him to do. Three guesses where this story is going.
"There were two of them," Castro recalled, with a smile in his voice. "They spoke to me in Spanish, 'Do you have a card [proving he was in the country legally]?' I said [in Spanish], 'No, I don't have a card.'"
"Who do you work for?" they asked him, again in Spanish.
"For the señora," he replied, indicating his house, because that's where he'd gotten his list of honey-dos.
"They got out of the car, ready to throw me in the paddy wagon," recalled Castro, telling a story he's told many times before. "I said, 'Wait a minute, didn't you see the sign, Castro Pony Farm? I happen to be Castro.'"
"They said, 'Are you Judge Castro?'"
"I said, 'Yes, I am.'"
After that, the Border Patrol duo was all apologies. But that sort of cultural assumption has never really stopped, according to Castro, who says he still gets guff when he crosses the border. When he goes through Border Patrol checkpoints, he's asked where he was born, the assumption being that he, a former governor, might be undocumented.
The Pew Hispanic Center recently reported that migration from Mexico is statistically at a "net zero." Apprehensions of unauthorized immigrants are at the lowest level since the Nixon administration.
So, um, why do we need all these freakin' BP agents down on the Arizona-Mexico border?
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Got me. Right-wingers love this police-state nonsense, even though as far as I can tell, it's just another federal government stimulus program.
Most BP agents are little more than uniformed welfare recipients, as far as I'm concerned. Cut these guys off the government dole, and they'd be working credit card boiler rooms and flipping burgers at Wendy's.
Not all of them are lazy and incompetent. Yes, there is legitimate work for them to do on the border. But we don't need so many of them. And they sure as hell need to lose the attitude and the knee-jerk reaction to anyone with brown skin.