BP will begin punishing illegal crossers
|By JULIAN AGUILAR , LAREDO MORNING TIMES|
|Saying the U.S. Border Patrol is ready to send a message to people who use the Laredo area as a gateway for illegal activity, Laredo Sector Chief Patrol Agent Carlos X. Carrillo officially announced the agency's zero-tolerance policy against undocumented immigrants."On October 30, the U.S. Border Patrol Laredo Sector will launch an initiative we call Streamline-Laredo," Carrillo said Friday morning. "Under this program, any alien who illegally enters the United States in the Laredo Sector at locations designated for zero-tolerance will be prosecuted in federal court." |
The program is patterned after initiatives in Del Rio and Yuma, Ariz., which have been credited with decreasing illegal entries while increasing illegal drug seizures along the border.
"It's not a Republican issue, it's not a Democrat issue," said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. "We're talking about implementing the law. … It pretty much eliminates the catch-and-release policy."
Cuellar added that he acknowledges that at first there will be a spike in the number of apprehensions, but said the judicial process will be accelerated and that the U.S. Marshals will be given all the resources they need to assist in the initiative. After word spreads, he added, the illegal traffic will decrease.
U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, said securing the border was vital to national security, and added that the law has been in the books since 1952. Culberson also referred to Muslim extremists groups that may look to the southern border as a possible path to enter the United States. He said the result of a terrorist attack by a person who sneaked in through Mexico would be disastrous.
"The affect would be catastrophic," Culberson said. "The reaction would be so strong that the border would become militarized."
Carrillo and Cuellar said, however, that there has been no evidence of terrorist activity along the Laredo border, though Cuellar said the possibility exists.
The officials added the issue of bed space in jails has been addressed, and that U.S. Marshals have contacted regional detention facilities regarding that matter.
Cuellar however, did not divulge which regional facilities had been contacted.
"We're not going to give you the names of what specific ones," Cuellar said. The congressman added that local or regional facilities with overcrowding issues would obviously not be considered.
"We're going to use the facilities that are already in place," Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark McPherson said. "We've (identified) other resources outside of (the) direct Laredo area. … Some are county facilities, some are private. If a facility is full, we're not going to force the facilities to take extra (detainees.)"
Cuellar added that by the beginning of 2009, when the federal government may again consider building a border wall in Laredo, the results of the streamline operation may be successful enough that a wall will no longer be considered.