In advance of the presidential election of 2012, President Barack Obama is preparing to shutter nine Border Patrol stations, many of which are located in critical areas of the southern border.
The announcement of the closures has met with resistance from local law enforcement, federal lawmakers, and those agents charged with securing the border with Mexico.
There is legitimate concern that leaving these posts unguarded will give a green light to Mexican drug cartels and human traffickers to ratchet up their illegal activities across the border with the United States.
The following nine Border Patrol stations are scheduled for closure:
Texas: Lubbock, Amarillo, Dallas, San Angelo, Abilene, and San Antonio.
Idaho: Twin Falls
Most of the affected stations are in areas that experience extraordinarily high movements of illegal immigration and narcotics. For example, the CBP (Customs and Border Protection) outpost in Amarillo, Texas, sits smack in the center of the I-40 corridor.
"I-40 is a corridor for not only narcotics, but also for the human trafficking and we do use the Border Patrol quite a bit to come out and help us with those," Potter County, Texas, Sheriff Brian Thomas told a local television station. "They're the ones that have the authority to arrest them and detain them. We don't."
"It could impact us tremendously since we've only got two agents up here now for 26 counties," Thomas told FoxNews.com.
Potter County, in the Texas Panhandle, lies in the area normally covered by the Amarillo CBP station.
While geographically his county is hundreds of miles from the Mexican border, Thomas insists that it's still a busy "corridor" for illegal immigrants. "I can't hold a carload of people out there on I-40 for eight hours while somebody comes from El Paso," he said. "I mean, that's just crazy."
Customs and Border Protection officials claim that agents will be re-deployed to posts nearer the border where the level of criminal activity is highest. "These deactivations are consistent with the strategic goal of securing America's borders, and our objective of increasing and sustaining the certainty of arrest of those trying to enter our country illegally," CBP spokesman Bill Brooks said in a statement. "By redeploying and reallocating resources at or near the border, CBP will maximize the effectiveness of its enforcement mandate and align our investments with our mission."
Not everyone in the CBP shares their leader’s opinion of the wisdom of the closures.
Robert Green, the ranking CBP agent in Amarillo, wrote a letter to a Lubbock newspaper encouraging local police to contact members of Congress and state legislators, informing them of the threat of increased violence that may wash into the area in the wake of federal border station “deactivation.”
"As a former deputy I found myself on the other end of the radio hoping to contact USBP to assist me with a vehicle full of undocumented foreign nationals on the side of the road," Green wrote. "I would encourage you, if you have found USBP assistance valuable in the past, to contact your political representatives and voice your concerns," he added.
There are already congressmen calling on the head of the Office of Border Patrol (one of the federal agencies that fall under the CBP umbrella) to reconsider the planned closures. These lawmakers worry that local police will be overwhelmed by the increased responsibility for the patrol and punishment of illegal immigration and drug trafficking, duties normally assumed by the federal agents who will no longer be active in the area.
Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry represents the citizens of Amarillo, and has accordingly jumped into the federal border patrol station closings fray.
“The U.S. Border Patrol made this announcement without first ensuring that local law enforcement agencies will have the necessary resources to deal with the serious illegal immigration problems in our area,” Thornberry wrote in a letter sent to USBP Chief Michael Fisher.
In a statement posted on his website, Thornberry claims that in the last fiscal year, “an average of 142 illegal aliens were apprehended by each agent at the Amarillo and Lubbock stations alone. An additional 638 have been made just this year.”
“Local law enforcement officials and many other people in our area are very troubled by this announcement, and I share their serious concerns,” the letter continues. “There are a number of unanswered questions here about federal enforcement responsibilities that need to be addressed. This letter is the first step in getting those answers.”
Congressman Thornberry’s letter was co-signed by his fellow Texas lawmakers Randy Neugebauer and Michael Conaway.
CBP spokesman Brooks claims that the patrol station closures won’t prevent federal agents from being available to assist local law enforcement.
"Though Border Patrol agents would no longer be located in these areas, the Border Patrol intends to maintain strong and meaningful law enforcement partnerships with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local law enforcement agencies in these areas through continuing to actively share intelligence and information" he said.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) chastised the Obama administration’s plan to leave significant swaths of the border unguarded, as well. "It's part of the systematic dismantling of both border and interior enforcement," a FAIR spokesman told FoxNews.com. "It complements the non-enforcement policy of this administration."
Evidence of President Obama’s “look the other way” attitude was most recently found in his June 15 Rose Garden press briefing where he announced his administration’s intent to “mend our nation’s immigration policy.”
In what is described by many as the opening of a back door to amnesty, President Obama announced at a June 15 Rose Garden press conference:
Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people. Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.
In defense of his pronouncement, the President said that this program is “not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.”
According to a statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the policy change applies to all who entered the United States prior to age 16 and who are younger than 30, provided they have resided in the United States for five years, have a clean criminal record, and are high school graduates or veterans of the armed forces. Published estimates indicate that nearly 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally will be included in this exemption.
There is an important constitutional consideration not being covered by the mainstream media’s analyses of the President's amnesty plan and his decision to deactivate federal border patrol stations. The question that has yet to be asked (until now) or answered is from which article or amendment of the Constitution does the President or Congress derive their authority to mandate immigration policy? A plain reading of the authority given by the states to the central government reveals that no such grant was ever made.
Regarding the closures, the restructuring is scheduled to take place within the next six months.
U.S. Customs officials estimate that closing the nine posts will save more than $1 million each year.
More important than the monetary consideration is the potential for the influx of millions of Mexicans and other immigrants who will manage to get their names on the voter rolls and to cast illegal (though counted) ballots for Barack Obama.
An open border combined with friends in charge of the company responsible for counting hundreds of thousands of votes across the country could produce a favorable outcome for the current occupant of the White House.