County seeks relief for border crossers
July 4th 2012 · 9 Comments
A letter addressed to Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, urging her involvement in expediting northbound pedestrian traffic affected by high temperatures at the downtown Calexico Port of Entry was signed by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The letter requests assistance and direct involvement in helping the county “solve a health and safety emergency that continues to exist as a direct result of the Department of Homeland Security interaction — or inaction along the U.S. border,” Imperial County Executive Officer Ralph Cordova said.
“That’s it in a nutshell,” Supervisor John Renison said as he continued the presentation to the board.
The letter comes after several weeks of meeting with the committee in charge of discussing border issues, and though “we respect very much the local board officials and regional directors,” Renison said, “we think that at this point in time it’s prudent to go higher up and to shake a few trees.
“We have almost a crisis situation here,” he said, referring to northbound pedestrian traffic, and “I know we don’t like to talk about it, but it’s a reality — it’s just becoming inhumane.”
The board showed support for the letter, but questioned whether to add to the letter that there are concerns about attitudes border crossers face when interrogated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel.
“I don’t know those allegations have been substantiated or followed up with the proper process,” Supervisor Michael Kelley said.
“I just don’t want to think we are slamming our homeland security forces when we really don’t know the (integral) details,” he said before suggesting this portion of the letter to be revised.
Supervisors Jack Terrazas and Ray Castillo agreed with Kelley.
“I think you are right on the money on just sticking on one subject,” Terrazas said.
“I’ve encountered not hostility, but just the officers doing the inspecting sometimes are not very friendly and it might have to do with the weather, too,” Castillo said.
Castillo, a former Customs inspector, added that agents may not want to be friendly when trying to “catch the bad guys.”
Renison said he had no problems with making the changes and shortly before the signature of the letter was unanimously approved with the provision that the reference to CBP agents’ attitudes be deleted.
A version of this column originally appeared in www.ivpressonline.com.
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