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January 23, 2008

Border War Heats Up

The death of CBP Senior Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar on Saturday is focusing attention on increased violence along the southern border. Aguilar was attempting to stop a suspected smuggler's vehicle near the California-Arizona border when the vehicle ran him down. DHS Secretary Chertoff said that he was "killed deliberately," which I take to mean it wasn't an accident.

Chertoff blamed the escalating assaults on three factors: an increased presence of law enforcement on the border, turf battles among criminal cartels and criminal resistance to the law enforcement crackdown.

"Is this violence a deliberate effort to target the Border Patrol? The answer to that is yes," Chertoff said.

Chertoff and Deputy Border Patrol Chief Ron Colburn said agents are assaulted with an arsenal of weaponry that includes bottles, knives, bats, ball bearings, steel pipes, cinder blocks, slingshots and vehicles.

The FBI is investigating, but I would be very surprised to hear that they find Aguilar's killers. There's just no good way to track them down. If they do manage to catch them, this is not an occasion for deportation. These guys need to experience the American justice system before they go.

In the meantime, Chertoff is talking tough on illegal immigration, which is quite a switch from his pro-comprehensive reform stance this summer. I'm not sure I buy his change in attitude after years of wishy-washy and downright rude responses to criticism. But sounding like he's serious about cracking down on illegal immigrants and the people who employ them is better than nothing, especially since the states (Oklahoma and Arizona, anyway) are starting to scare the bejesus out illegals.

And there's some reason for hope. Operation Streamline and its various progeny, replacing "Catch and Release" with "Catch and Prosecute," is ongoing. DHS is continuing its legal and regulatory effort to begin issuing no match letters to employers. And DHS has begun proceedings to acquire land for the long-awaited border fence, which Chertoff promises to build by the end of the year. Here's hoping.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 03:43 AM

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