While lawmakers in Washington pat themselves on the back for
cooking up a massively expensive and mostly cosmetic Homeland Security
Department bill, many of the real heroes of homeland security continue to
suffer recriminations and retaliation.
Border Patrol agent Keith Olson, the arresting officer in
Bellingham, Wash., who was responsible for obtaining the fingerprints of
illegal alien sniper suspect Lee Malvo last December, has been the subject
of two internal investigations during the past three weeks. Instead of
pinning a medal on his chest and giving Olson a raise for taking the prints
of Malvo that eventually led to his arrest in the Washington, D.C., area
killing spree, federal officials are conducting a probe of his conduct.
Meanwhile, Border Patrol agent Daryl Schermerhorn has been
castigated by an INS higher-up for publicly criticizing the decision by
federal immigration authorities to release Malvo and his illegal alien
mother earlier this year pending deportation proceedings.
On Oct. 29, Schermerhorn, a Northwest regional union
representative for Border Patrol agents in Washington state, explained to
FOX News' Bill O'Reilly that the catch-and-release policy for illegal aliens
is a result of the government's perilous penny-pinching:
O'REILLY: Why were they happy to keep Malvo and his
mother in the country? Why?
SCHERMERHORN: Well, what's the price of an airplane ticket from
Seattle to Jamaica? That's why. The cost of housing them in jail until that
time, that's why. They're trying to save a few dollars . . . It's nothing
new for the INS to release criminals onto the streets and for them to commit
murder. There's been hundreds murdered in the United States at the hands of
. . .
SCHERMERHORN: It won't change until people are willing to talk
about it, and there's very few of us in the Border Patrol willing to talk
about it. I represent the Border Patrol agents through the National Border
Patrol Council. We're willing to talk about it.
Schermerhorn's candor has been met by caustic, insulting
criticism from at least one INS official. On Oct. 30, Robin F. Baker, an
assistant regional director in the INS Western Regional Office in Laguna
Niguel, Calif., sent an e-mail to Schermerhorn, which was copied to nearly
50 other INS employees:
"Nobody, not even a person of your monumental intelligence,
could have predicted what path the young Mr. Malvo would take . . . Your
agenda, whatever it may be, is counterproductive to the thousands of
(detention and removal) personnel who are doing their best in spite of the
limitations placed upon them by Congress, uncooperative foreign consulates,
(non-governmental organizations), pro bono attorneys, special interest
groups, ect. (sic) Have you ever detained a non-criminal mother and her
16-year-old child for a lengthy period of time? Have you had to face the
wrath of the above-mentioned groups?"
Baker did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Ignore the hysterics. Of course, no one could have predicted
that Malvo would go on a cross-country killing spree, as government
prosecutors have alleged. But there were two people at INS who had a gut
instinct that Malvo and his mother -- two admitted illegal aliens with no
documentation and no means of support -- should be detained and deported
immediately for the good of the country: Border Patrol officer Keith Olson
and his fellow agent, Raymond Ruiz.
Agent Ruiz warned last December: "Subject Uma James is a native
and citizen of Jamaica with no immigration documents allowing her to be or
remain in the United States legally. She has no roots or close family ties
in the United States and is likely to abscond."
If INS and immigration court officials had heeded the warnings
of the arresting officers, instead of caving in to the "pro bono attorneys
and special interest groups" that Baker whined about in his e-mail, Malvo
would never have had the opportunity to pursue his "counterproductive"
agenda. And his mother wouldn't be on the lam today.
That's right. James (also known as Una James and Ana James),
remains on the loose -- in violation of the $1,500 bond posted on her behalf
by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project of Seattle. Neither the Northwest
Immigrant Rights Project nor INS investigators have been able to track her
down. Last week, Virginia commonwealth's attorney Robert Horan said FBI
agents have now joined the hunt for her in Washington state.
Will a $37 billion Homeland Security Department prevent another
Malvogate? As long as federal immigration authorities remain more committed
to stifling whistleblowers instead of protecting them: Fat chance.