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January 27, 2020
The Border Patrol’s scout troops
The Border Patrol’s Explorer program provides a scouting experience for young people, coupled with training on securing the border. Really. The program is not new - it was started in 1984, and in most ways is similar to other law enforcement “Learning for Life” youth programs. Mostly.
The training scenarios, however, involve role-playing tracking down migrants in the deserts and mock gun battles with drug dealers. Little is known about the program - indeed, the Nation journalist who published a profile of the Explorers had a difficult time getting people to talk or share information. The reporter was able to interview several young people involved in the program, and was able to get some documentary information. The result is a fascinating look into the law enforcement culture at the border, and the way that culture is disseminated across generations - many of these young folks are children of immigrants themselves.
From the Nation:
Learning for Life program provides the initial training for agents interested in starting their own posts. It also issues broad guidelines regarding how the troops should be managed and then leaves the day-to-day management to these local agents. Each post requires participants to attend a basic law-enforcement academy, often in intensive sessions during the summer. According to a CBP press officer, the 60 hours spent in the Basic Explorer Academy instructs the teenage students in physical fitness, CPR, drills, and conducting vehicle stops. It also offers courses in radio communications, public speaking, report writing, and “ethics and integrity” and introduces the youths to criminal, juvenile, immigration, and Fourth Amendment law. Finally, the budding Explorers learn the history of the Border Patrol, along with the nuts and bolts of how the agency operates.
When it comes to patrolling, the techniques they learn vary by geography. In Maine,[...]Explorers can receive training in operating the radar systems of Border Patrol boats. Explorers in Arizona practice footprint tracking suited to work in the desert. Many troops also receive training in firearm use, at times in outings sponsored by the National Rifle Association. Arrest and deportation trainings are standardized for posts across the country.
The report highlights an obvious dynamic, often overlooked in discussion of border policy: Most of the people working border patrol come from border areas. Work is otherwise hard to find, and so law enforcement is a tempting career choice:
In Ajo’s central plaza, the trainee who showed me the video also said he knew that migrants are not criminals and are simply seeking to improve their circumstances. I asked why he continued to participate in the program. “Money,” he replied. “Money, money, money.”
Ajo’s median household income is just over $33,000, and just under a third of its residents live below the federal poverty line; when the highest-paying jobs in town are in law enforcement, working for Border Patrol makes economic sense.
Read the full story here.
Immigration Judges are leaving under Trump
The Trump administration has added a significant number of immigration judges over the last three years. The number of judges has grown from 289 to 442 since 2016. However, despite this growth over 10% (45) left their posts last year, many citing administration policy as the reason. Judges are now required to clear 700 cases a year to deal with a backlog that climbed past 1 million cases.
From the LA Times:
Immigration Judge Charles Honeyman was nearing retirement, but he vowed not to leave while Donald Trump was president and risk being replaced by an ideologue with an anti-immigration agenda.
He pushed back against the administration the best he could. He continued to grant asylum to victims of domestic violence even after the Justice Department said that was not a valid reason to. And he tried to ignore demands to speed through cases without giving them the consideration he believed the law required.
But as the pressure from Washington increased, Honeyman started having stomach pains and thinking, “There are a lot of cases I’m going to have to deny that I’ll feel sick over.”
This month, after 24 years on the bench, the 70-year-old judge called it quits.
Unfortunately as more judges leave, the current Attorney General gets to replace them - and this is not good news in the long run for people seeking asylum in this country. Trump's policies may be felt for decades!