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Ex-Border Patrol chief: We weren't ready

BILL HESS / Sierra Vista Herald / January 20, 2000

DOUGLAS - The U.S. Border Patrol was not prepared for the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border into Cochise County even though the agency knew it was coming, said the former boss of the patrols Tucson sector.

Ron Sanders, who retired in disgust on July 3, 1999, charged that while the Clinton administration is doing a good job of talking about controlling the borders, in fact, the Democrats want to ensure there are more people in critical areas of the country when the census is taken this year.

Sanders alleges the government intentionally didnt prepare for the onslaught of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Arizona-Mexico border.

I Ieft (retired) because I didn't think the Border Patrol in Cochise County was prepared and was not going to be made ready, he said. Cochise County has about 100 miles of border with Mexico. The county is part of the Border Patrols Tucson sector.

Forcing more illegal immigrants to use this part of the country as an entry point was part of a strategic plan, he said Wednesday.

The urban areas of the United States San Diego and El Paso, Texas have had the number of illegal immigrants going through those areas dramatically reduced, Sanders said. The next part of the strategic plan, once, and if, Cochise Countys problems are addressed, will be the Del Rio, Texas, region, he said. The same type of problem facing the Border Patrol in Cochise County awaits them in the Del Rio area, which has a lot of open areas and ranches.

Sanders noted the Nogales area of Arizona and Sonora also was tightened, but the Douglas area has not received the needed attention even yet, he said.

The porousness of the Arizona portion of the border in Cochise County with its large rural areas make it easy for the illegal immigrants to come into the country and difficult for the Border Patrol to stem the flow, Sanders said.

Wednesday, he followed Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan on a four-hour tour of the Douglas border area.

The problem facing the federal agency in controlling the increased number of people coming through the Douglas area is that although many are caught about half make it into the United States, Sanders said.

They then scatter throughout the country due to the lack of real interior enforcement, he said.

For every illegal immigrant caught at least one, if not more, makes it into the United States to disappear into the a workforce where they are paid small salaries and get no benefits, Sanders said.

What many people in the United States do not understand is the national Democratic leadership wants to have as many people counted, which includes illegal immigrants, in the upcoming census, he claims.

By adding more illegal immigrants to the count, that will increase the Democrats possibility of ensuring congressional House seats will be kept in the much needed base of the party when redistricting is done, Sanders believes.

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