Wednesday, March 18, 2009

$110 Million in State Money Squandered at the Border

No big surprise there. It seems to be all the rage today to take money that was allocated in good faith to fight a much needed battle against, say drug trafficking and the Mexican drug cartels, and turn it into a cash cow.

The big surprise is that it took an independent watchdog group like the American Civil Liberties Union to expose this reprehensible behavior.

And the only thing wrong with that is given what your average redneck Texan thinks about the ACLU, this news of gross mishandling of government funds, a hot button in this day and age, will be shrugged off. It’s not so much a “shoot the messenger” issue as it is a “shoot the message because you don’t like the messenger” issue.

The 33 page document, prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, exposes misuse of the $110 million authorized in September 2007 by the Texas legislature, funds to be used in what became known as Operation Border Star, an agglomeration of 41 federal, state and local enforcement agencies.

The report concentrated on 11 of these organizations, local sheriffs’ departments for the most part, that used this state money for day-to-day operations. Examples follow:

The Cities of La Joya and Sullivan City, which have between 4,300 and 4,700 residents, and their police departments combined to make 9,576 traffic stops as part of Operation Border Star. The result? 3,314 citations and 5,387 warnings issued. That is roughly one traffic stop per resident.”

The ACLU suggests that Border Star funds instead be used only to stem organized crime and to patrol “drug corridors.”

Since 2005, the heads of three Operation Border Star participating departments have been arrested, indicted or convicted of organized crime-related activity.”

The ACLU suggests creation of an integrity unit that would investigate cartel-induced official corruption.

Measuring arrests of aliens encourages local law enforcement to detain immigrants instead of arresting gang members. Ten of the 11 departments analyzed in this report utilized Operation Border Star resources to detain 656 suspected deportable immigrants and arrested a combined total of five criminal gang members. El Paso Police Department alone arrested 53 criminal gang members and apprehended and detained no one without documentation. This is evidence that law enforcement efforts will be more effective when they are not bogged down by attempting to verify immigration status.

The ACLU suggests not using Border Star funds to round up undocumented aliens, but instead to use them to interdict drug traffic, as intended.

None of this surprises me anymore. Taking money that was set aside for one purpose, and using it to accomplish another one, is all too commonplace. So common that it is winked at these days.

It’s too bad, though, that the messenger in this specific case, the ACLU, doesn’t share the values of your average Texas cracker.


txwordpounder said...

So the ACLU supports spending money to fund the War on Drugs but not to apprehend undocumented workers?

Anonymous said...

Often the ACLU takes some pretty sad cases at times to garner press, but ultimately they fight for the constitution and our individual liberties regardless of party affiliation.

Hal said...

Agreed Anon. The ACLU often takes up cases that not only run up against their own progressive political views, but against their own right to exist.

And txwordpounder, if you missed the entire point, and you did, here it is once more: these Texas law enforcement groups are taking money that was set aside to combat drug trafficking and Mexican drug cartels who are operating at our border and using the money to enforce laws that were not intended for them to enforce.

It's like you taking money from someone who wants you to build them a school, and you use it to build them a sewage disposal plant. One is not more useful than the other, but we should be given the option of receiving what we ask for.