June 2009


A proposal to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to counter drug trafficking has triggered a bureaucratic standoff between the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security over the military’s role in domestic affairs, according to officials in both departments.

The debate has engaged a pair of powerful personalities, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in what their subordinates describe as a turf fight over who should direct the use of troops to assist in the fight against Mexican cartels and who should pay for them.

At issue is a proposal to send 1,500 additional troops to the border to analyze intelligence and to provide air support and technical assistance to border agencies. The governors of Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico made the request in January, drawing support from Napolitano but prompting objections from the Pentagon, where officials argue that it could lead to a permanent, expanded mission for the military.

President Barack Obama has signaled that he is open to the idea, asking Congress for $250 million to deploy the National Guard while also saying he was “not interested in militarizing the border.” The issue, which has been stalled before a National Security Council policy committee, will be decided by the president.

Neither Napolitano nor Gates has made the disagreement personal, although some of their aides have privately expressed exasperation at what one called an interagency “food fight.”

“It should not be that we always rely on the Department of Defense to fulfill some need,” said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., head of the U.S. Northern Command, which is responsible for defending the continental United States. Border law enforcement agencies should have adequate funds to do their job, he said. If the Guard is tapped, it should be for capabilities “that do not exist elsewhere in government,” Renuart said. “When we send the National Guard, they go with specific missions, with specific purposes. And we put some duration on that so there is an end state.”

Homeland security officials and governors counter that there is a legitimate need for troops to back up border agencies against the most serious threat to the Southwest and that a deployment would not represent a new military mission. Under a 1989 law, the National Guard already assigns 577 troops to help states with anti-drug programs that “can easily expand,” the four governors wrote Congress in April.

Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona prompted President George W. Bush to send 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in 2006, has supported the governors.

Brian de Vallance, senior counselor to Napolitano, said she “feels we have an obligation to do whatever we can do to disrupt those forces that are destroying lives in over 200 American cities. … It comes down to whether folks want to be as aggressive as we can be against the cartels and take every advantage of this historic opportunity” of cooperation between Mexico and the United States.

The debate goes to the heart of the military’s role, which has expanded since the 2001 terrorist attacks, with an increasing commitment of troops and resources to homeland defense, particularly to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear attack or other domestic catastrophe. The deployment of new troops to the border would represent a mission the military has not traditionally embraced.

“What we’re seeing is here is a move toward reframing where defense begins and ends,” said Bert B. Tussing, director of homeland defense and security issues at the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership. “Traditionally the military looks outward, but looking outward has begun a lot closer to home, and it may involve looking just across the border.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) requested 1,000 Guard troops in January that he later said could form 24 border reconnaissance platoons, support Texas Ranger and parks and wildlife tracking teams, and back up air and marine operations. Perry, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) subsequently asked Congress to add personnel to the National Guard’s Counter-Drug Program in their states. Currently, troops provide translators, reconnaissance and administrative support, relaying aircraft surveillance images, for example.

Border states bear “unique and/or disproportionate” costs of dealing with illegal immigration, drugs and violence, Brewer wrote. “It is abundantly clear that additional resources are needed — and needed now,” the governors wrote in a separate letter.

The fight is largely over money. For the past two years, Pentagon budget officials have tried to slash funding for state drug-fighting operations, citing the financial strain of waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And military officials say governors could pay for their own guard units.

But governors contend that securing the border is a federal responsibility and that Washington should cover the cost.

Paul McHale, Gates’s assistant secretary for homeland defense until early this year, said the broader worry is strategic. “The real concern is, if it works once, and it works a second time … at some point a temporary mission becomes permanent,” he said. “Do it four or five times over a decade, and the political and military repercussions are likely negative.”

A senior White House national security official said the president is comfortable with the disagreement and “wants to see the kind of creative tension and full-out debate that major policy decisions engender.”

The official added, “It’s the president’s view that … frankly, that kind of debate among two Cabinet officers like Secretary Gates and Secretary Napolitano, both of whom he holds in high regard, will inevitably lead to a better policy.”

The official noted that the administration has already taken some steps, sending 450 DHS and Justice Department agents to the border in March to fight cash and weapons smuggling. And, he pointed out, crime in U.S. border communities and border arrests have fallen.

For now, administration officials are working through differences. In response to the Pentagon concerns that the troops could become permanent, DHS officials are searching for benchmarks that would end a deployment, such as a drop in cartel violence or improved Mexican enforcement.

When the Bush administration sent Guard units to the border, they went as a stopgap measure, backing up the U.S. Border Patrol for two years while it added 6,000 agents. The troops rotated through non-law enforcement duties.

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“Asia” apparently includes the Middle East these days

A MASSIVE influx of up to 10,000 asylum seekers is expected to head to Australia, Indonesian authorities have warned.

About 1500 asylum seekers have already arrived in Indonesia from Malaysia by boat this year and registered for refugee status, while the same number again are believed to have arrived and not registered, Fairfax newspapers report.

Malaysia is used as a staging point to obtain tourist visas before refugees seek passage to Australia via Indonesia. The refugees are believed to include people from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Burma and Iraq.

An Australian immigration enforcement official says the high volumes of people present a similar situation to the thousands who began arriving in the late 1990s.

With Australian financial and technical support, the Indonesian government will announce on Wednesday a strike team of 12 dedicated police to combat human trafficking. But the sheer number of asylum seekers from Malaysia will put pressure on the new security measures.

Coordinator of the Malaysian immigration support group Tenaganita, Aegile Fernandez agreed that up to 10,000 asylum seekers in Malaysia were planning to come to Australia. “I would put the blame on these agencies that have been promising Australia as the destination,” she said.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has 49,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers in its records in Malaysia and estimates there are 45,000 unregistered illegal immigrants.

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A report from the AP discloses that foreign police officers are now performing law enforcement functions in the United States under a scheme supported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Reportedly, foreign police officers from Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Canada are participating.

Although it’s generally indicated that the foreign police are engaged in anti-smuggling operations, it’s unclear what specific law enforcement functions they are permitted to perform. For example, it’s mentioned that Canadian law enforcement officers have been given arrest authority in New York whereas Mexican officers do not have the same authority in Texas. However, Mexican officers are given the authority to investigate in Texas which logically means they can interview and interrogate suspects.

Consequently, one must ask which nation’s laws and procedures are employed when foreign officers perform these functions. Interrogation of suspects under Mexican law is quite different from interrogations conducted under U.S. law.

Also, arrests of suspects in the U.S. by Canadian officers appear to be completely outside the law. And it seems to set a dangerous precedent where any nation could send policemen to the U.S. to arrest somebody to be tried in a court in — pick a place — Beijing or Islamabad or Pyongyang.

According to Tim Durst, ICE chief of contraband smuggling, the focus of the effort is information: “We look at it as real-time, firsthand information sharing. It is one of the few ways to go back to the source of smuggling activity.”

So, according to Durst, the whole scheme is designed for information-sharing but, as described, it appears to go way beyond simple communications. To my knowledge, putting someone in handcuffs has never been considered “information-sharing.”

Nonetheless, the way the scheme supposedly works is that U.S. immigration and border patrol officers tell the Mexican, Colombian, Argentine and Canadian officers the plans for disrupting smuggling operations and the foreign officers tell their colleagues back in Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Canada what is going down. The intended result is cross-border cooperation in stopping the flow of contraband.

Of course, the whole plan is predicated on a belief that most law enforcers in the foreign countries are not corrupt. I suggest that the belief is flawed with regard to Mexico, Colombia and Argentina where police allegedly often work in unison with smugglers.

In conclusion, I contend that foreign police performing law enforcement functions in the U.S. is not a good idea and it probably violates wheelbarrows-full of existing American laws. And most troubling of all is a statement by Tim Durst, the head anti-smuggling man with ICE: “By working with our foreign partners, we can basically remove the border as a barrier,” Durst said.

Frankly, I don’t know how anyone in a position of authority could suggest removing the border.

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By FRASER NELSON

Does it matter if immigrants have taken (or created) all the new jobs in the British private sector? I reveal this in my News of the World column today, as the key fact from a data request I made from the ONS. It’s a divisive topic, and even exploring it make ministers feel uncomfortable. But this ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach to immigration has not just given the BNP the political space needed for its electoral breakthrough three weeks ago, but left ministers ignorant about what’s going on in our labour market. Between Q1 of 1997 and Q1 of 2009, immigrants account for 106% of new jobs in the private sector – ie, there are more new workers (1.55m) than new jobs (1.47m).

I’ll update this post later with key graphs and put online the full response to my data request – this all deserves to be in the public domain. But it does strike me that the best way to fight the BNP is not to ban its MEPs from the House of Commons (as our MPs are now trying to do) but actually start learning about, and dealing with, the dynamics of migration. BNP support is the scream of the forgotten voter – and unless Westminster collectively starts to reach out to these people then the BNP’s success story may well have a good bit left to run.

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In the year to April, Britain received more than 3,500 requests from foreign countries for the return of their criminals. More than 150 were suspected or convicted murderers. The astonishing total was up by a quarter on the previous 12 months.

The vast majority of the ‘wanted’ suspects hailed from European Union countries. As Detective Chief Inspector Murray Duffin, of the Scotland Yard Extradition and Intelligence Unit, has warned: ‘Britain is becoming a magnet for increasing numbers of criminals from the former Eastern bloc countries which are now members of the EU.’

Notably, the number of fugitives being sought by Poland has soared 14-fold since 2004, when the country joined the EU and its citizens were allowed to live in Britain. The Warsaw police now send a charter plane to Britain every month to pick up their countrymen wanted for killings, rape, robbery, burglary, drugs and theft. Last year, officers from the extradition unit returned 275 Poles accused of crimes back home.

Even the police chief of Albania – which is not an EU member – has warned that Britain has become the favourite sanctuary for fugitives. He recently claimed that the UK is harbouring 80 Albanian killers and 20 other serious offenders. Many have got British citizenship after deceiving our authorities and claiming asylum by pretending to be from war-torn Kosovo.

So why does our extradition system take so long to send back the suspected foreign criminals found here? And what are the implications for our own safety as rapists and murderers freely walk our streets?

In London, a fifth of all offences, a third of all sex attacks and half of all frauds are committed by those born overseas. In the West Midlands, the number of foreigners accused of crimes doubled to 3,700 in the five years up to 2008. In the country as a whole, drink-driving convictions of foreigners have shot up 17 times. And it is hard not to suspect that many of them will have had criminal records before they came to Britain. For as one London senior police officer told me: ‘A criminal doesn’t stop being a criminal just because he moves country – and that is the real problem. Our first call when we get an extradition request from a foreign country is to the British prison authorities, because that is where they are often to be found.’ Indeed, about 5 per cent of all extradition requests concern suspects who have already been jailed for offences committed in the UK.

Many have arrived here illicitly, smuggling themselves into Britain hidden in lorries [trucks] arriving from Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne, or on trains through the Channel tunnel. This week the Home Office said that last year 28,000 foreigners clandestinely tried to enter the country by these routes. ‘Inevitably, some are running away from their own justice system,’ explained the police officer.

The trouble is, by the time foreign criminals are successfully tracked down it’s often too late. In one horrific case, schoolgirl Katerina Koneva, 12, was strangled at her home in Hammersmith, West London, by Andrezej Kunowski, who had spent 15 years in jail in his native Poland for serial sex offences. The 51-year-old was awaiting trial in his home country for further sex attacks when, in June 1996, he was freed on bail for urgent medical treatment and absconded, travelling to Britain under a tourist visa. (Poland was not yet a member of the EU.)

He murdered Katerina a year later, and although the Polish authorities continued to seek his extradition, Kunowski remained at large in the UK for six years after her death. It was only when he was arrested for the rape of a 22-year-old student from London that police were able to use the DNA samples they had taken to link him to Katerina’s killing. He is serving life in prison in Britain and is unlikely ever to be released – which means that he will never face justice in his own country.

Yet shocking though his case is, there are many more like him still at large in Britain. In fact, only a fraction of those suspected of crimes in their home country and traced to Britain are ever successfully extradited. Of the 3,526 foreigners for whom extradition requests were made by European Union countries in the past year, 683 were arrested and only one in seven – 516 – returned, according to the latest figures released to the Mail by the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

As for those from outside the EU, the Home Office says that of the 300 ‘wanted’ by the rest of the world since 2003, a third escaped extradition and remain here. There are a myriad legal loopholes to sidestep removal. The suspects’ lawyers often claim – successfully – that their clients will suffer human rights abuse or will not face a fair trial back home. The extradition process can be dragged out for years if suspects appeal to the High Court and then up again to the Home Secretary. If they come from outside the EU, many instantly claim asylum. This request has then to be considered by the courts before the extradition process can even begin. In a further twist, those accused of offences carrying the death penalty in their home country cannot – by our law – be returned because Britain has abolished capital punishment.

This begs the question of whether the most dangerous foreign criminals are deliberately settling here because they are safe from extradition. The situation is even more complicated if the suspected foreign criminal has a wife and children in this country. Under the Human Rights Act 1998, they can fight removal, claiming their family life would be disrupted.

The crisis was highlighted earlier this month with the Crimestoppers’ campaign to track down foreign criminals here. The 16 named suspects were mainly from Eastern Europe (eight from Albania alone) and included six rapists and six murderers. Lord Ashcroft, who founded Crimestoppers, said: ‘Fugitives hide across the globe in all communities. When you look at the criminals that are on the most wanted list, they can be truly horrible people and need to be caught.’

To speed the extradition process, new laws on sending criminals back to Europe were passed in 2003. However, over four days in court, I saw a score of foreigners using every twist and turn in the law to fight removal. Take Fred Undrits, who is wanted in Estonia for burning down a house. The 23-year-old was brought to the extradition hearing from prison, where he is serving a 56-day sentence for shoplifting. He has been in Britain since 2006 and his case might take years to decide.

And what of Albanian Shkelzen Gradica? The 33-year-old has changed his name to Robert and was convicted in his absence in Italy of attempted murder. His defence team argue it could breach his human rights to be sent to Rome because he would not get a fair trial. The reason? Gradica was convicted on the basis of an unreliable witness statement and has never had the chance to answer the allegations against him in an Italian courtroom.

From Poland, Maciej Blaszko, 30, has been accused in Warsaw of attempted robbery and driving while disqualified. Here he has been fighting extradition with a team of lawyers paid for with legal aid funded by the British taxpayer. Blaszko says he won’t get a fair trial back home because the police case against him was prepared when he had fled the country for the UK.

And then there was paedophile Julius Horvath, convicted in 1996 of the sexual assault and rape of a child in the Czech Republic. Horvath slipped through our borders and came to Britain in 2000. Despite his dubious past, he successfully claimed asylum. Living in a one-bed council flat in Leeds, he even received job seekers’ allowance. The 54-year old has also had numerous run-ins with police here, according to evidence given at the extradition hearing. In the past four years, the Czech has been cautioned for affray, being drunk and disorderly, serious assault and shoplifting. Luckily for him, he has one son living here, and four grandchildren who were born here, which means the chances of him ever going home are slim indeed. Why? His lawyers say that a return would infringe his ‘family life’ under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

And then there was the suspected Hungarian paedophile Balazs Asztalos. He made a second appearance at the extradition court ten days after he was found by police in Milton Keynes. His employers, S and D Leisure, admitted they did not have a clue their polite young employee was a suspected child molester. ‘We were really amazed when he was arrested,’ said company owner Stanley Reeves. ‘If we’d had the slightest inkling he was on the run from police we never would have given him a job.’ The family-run company, which operates bungee rides all over the country, had taken down Asztalos’ details from his passport and started to run a police criminal record check on him.

Now Mr Reeves is questioning how Asztalos had not been tracked down to Britain before. He arrived in Britain in 2006. In the extradition court, Asztalos’ shoulder-length hair was swept back from his face with gel, and he looked completely different to the shavenheaded figure who had appeared in the Crimestoppers photograph. But already there are nagging doubts about whether he can ever be returned. The court heard that the Hungarian police have questioned three other people – including Asztalos’ own mother – in connection with child sex abuse in his home town. Defence barrister Martin Henley told the extradition court the trio had all been released without charge.

And then Mr Henley announced his bombshell. He said that under British laws the extradition request was useless if Asztalos was wanted only for interviews by Hungarian police and was not, thus far, subject to a fullblown arrest warrant. While inquiries are made about exactly what the situation is, the young Hungarian will remain in prison.

Asztalos is innocent until proven guilty, but there are countless other foreign crooks and deviants with dubious pasts who are making Britain an infinitely more unsafe place for decent people to live in. It is a scandal of terrifying proportions.

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Wishy-washy Leftist laws and regulations have revived the flow that the conservative Howard government stopped

The biggest boatload of asylum seekers since the Tampa crisis is heading towards Australia. The vessel, believed to be carrying up to 190 people, is being tracked by border protection authorities. It recently passed between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra and is believed to be southeast of Bali. Authorities are waiting to see if it heads east towards Darwin or southwest towards Ashmore Reef.

The boat is one of several being monitored by Border Protection Command, which tracks suspect vessels as soon as they leave port. If the numbers aboard are as high as authorities believe, the vessel could mark a turning point in the tactics of people smugglers.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor’s office declined to comment, saying it did not discuss operational matters. Most boats in recent times have carried about 20 unauthorised arrivals. But there are bigger profits to be made by smugglers who are willing to load more people aboard old fishing boats and ferries.

The Norwegian freighter MV Tampa rescued 433 asylum seekers from a leaky boat in 2001, prompting the Howard government’s so-called “Pacific Solution”. The policy was dismantled by the Rudd Government, which axed mandatory detention and closed processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island. It has also stopped billing immigration detainees for the cost of their stay.

The number of unauthorised boats heading to Australia has been steadily climbing, with 15 arriving already this year. The latest came this week, carrying 49 asylum seekers and four crew. The asylum seeker surge will test refugee processing facilities on Christmas Island, which are reportedly close to capacity.

Opposition immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone said the Government was failing to deter boat arrivals. “It’s on for young and old again,” she said. “The people smugglers clearly have a well established pipeline to Australia and they are using the Rudd Government’s soft policies to recruit more clients.”

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Assume there are 100 people in your community who do the work you do and 100 jobs for that type of work that local employers want to fill. You are in a pretty good position: You can stay employed.

Now assume there are only 95 people in your community who do the work you do and 105 jobs that local employers want to fill. You are in an even better position: You can stay employed and demand a higher wage because the demand for the work you do exceeds the supply of able workers.

You are, in fact, like all workers in a free society, a small business owner. You are an enterprise of one. You have something of value to sell, which is your labor, and you have a right to hold out for the highest price you can get from willing buyers. Harvard Law School graduates have this right, and landscape laborers have this right. It is at the heart of free enterprise, a core element of our American way of life.

Now suppose the government decides to stop enforcing the nation’s borders and immigration laws, allowing 25 people from a foreign country who do the same kind of work you do to illegally enter the United States, settle in your community, and begin competing with you and your neighbors for the jobs you hold.

With additional illegal aliens pouring across the border daily, there are already 120 people seeking the 105 jobs of your type in your town. A few of your lifelong friends are laid off. Your own job is threatened. Your employer slashes wages, and you accept the pay cut because the supply of workers now exceeds the demand. You begin wondering when you’ll see a pink slip in your pay envelope.

The illegal-alien families, which pay less in taxes than the formerly higher-paid American workers, put their children in public schools, secure health care at public hospitals and place a net financial burden on their neighbors. Taxes go up; the quality of services goes down.

This is before the recession. First, economic growth slows. Then, it stops. Then, it drops off a cliff. Month after month, hundreds of thousands of additional workers are thrown from their jobs as the economy tumbles down a mountainside.

What policy changes do congressional leaders recommend as employment plummets? In Washington, D.C., today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is plotting an attack on the surviving jobs of American workers. “I’m going to do comprehensive immigration reform,” Reid told reporters last week. “I’m not going to do it piecemeal. That’s an excuse for everybody to do too little.

“We’re going to do it all at once, and we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform that will include taking care of our borders, a decent guest-worker program, bringing the 11 million people out of the shadows, doing something that’s so important with the employer sanctions bill that really is a catch-22 for everyone and a number of other things,” said Reid. “We’re going to do it all in one piece of legislation, not give people an excuse that they voted for one thing and think that they’re through with it.”

What Reid means by “bringing 11 million people out of the shadows” is making illegal immigrants legal — thus rewarding illegal behavior and encouraging further illegal immigration. What he means by a “decent guest-worker program” is giving employers the power to import foreign workers into the United States and keep those workers laboring here in a status that is inferior to a free American citizen or permanent legal resident.

These imported “guest workers” would not have the right to sell, or withhold, their labor at any time, place and price they choose — like real Americans do. Such workers would be subject to federal laws and regulations meant to hold them captive to the employers who imported them. Such workers would be half-slave, half-free — and part of a country dividing against itself.

What Harry Reid is proposing is an assault on American workers and the principle of free labor. It is as contrary to the American way of life as the federal government owning General Motors.

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