(Part 10) GAO Presentation On Internal DHS Checkpoints

Part 10 of a 14 part video series highlighting a town hall meeting organized by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords appears above. The meeting was held on September 2, 2009 in Green Vally, Arizona to discuss/debate a recent GAO report on internal suspicionless homeland security checkpoints.

In this video, more members of the audience speak out against the proposed permanent Homeland Security checkpoint being planned for Southern Arizona’s I-19 South of Tucson. Jennifer Allen with the Border Action Network speaks first followed by a member of the Audobon Society. Highlights from the speakers along with responses from government representatives follow:

  • Border Action network director Jennifer Allen asks what’s the big picture? Why aren’t internal checkpoints redundant given the momentum underway to expand and upgrade Ports of Entry around the country?
  • Allen also refers to the activation of SBInet and Southbound border checks as additional tools being put in place that alleviate the need for internal checkpoints
  • Chief Gilbert responds by asserting checkpoints are not redundant because they are designed to intercept illegal traffic that flows around Ports of Entry (POE). This is a misrepresentation however given that GAO representative Stana already stated permanent checkpoints are needed because POE’s only attempt to interdict 30% of illegal traffic so as to not overly burden border commerce. As such, internal checkpoints are there just as much to interdict illegal traffic that gets through POE’s as they are to interdict traffic that goes around a POE. Additionally, if the Border Patrol was truly interested in interdicting illegal traffic flowing around POE’s, it would place more resources around them instead of at checkpoints 25 to 100 miles North of them.
  • Chief Gilbert uses the phrase Defense In Depth to describe internal checkpoints but doesn’t attempt to explain how internal checkpoints are more effective than utilizing the same resources on the actual border. Additionally, if you read the wikipedia definition of ‘defense in depth’, the inapplicability of the strategy to internal immigration checkpoints should be obvious.
  • Representative Giffords responds in this video by making it clear she’s bought the Department of Homeland Security’s propaganda hook, line and sinker. She indicates the maps of (permanent) checkpoint locations and statistics speak for themselves. I would agree with Giffords. The statistics clearly show that border operations are ten times more effective at interdicting illegal traffic than internal checkpoints. This means (if one truly believed in the security theater that passes for border security) resources being wasted on internal checkpoints would be better utilized on the border instead of harassing individuals inside the country absent suspicion.
  • The next speaker from the audience represented the Audobon society. He indicated there are several outstanding environmental concerns regarding the proposed location of the permanent checkpoint the Border Patrol has never responded to. He also asked about the status of a required environmental impact study and deplored the fragmentation of the landscape by Border Patrol enforcement operations.
  • Chief Gilbert responded by stating the environmental impact study was on hold until further notice and that he felt the Border Patrol’s effect on the environment was mitigated by the reduction in illegal traffic their presence was responsible for.

This sums up part 10. Links to all parts of this special report appear below: