- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) yesterday described as “flat wrong” a report in a California newspaper that the Border Patrol was giving information to Mexico on the whereabouts of Minuteman volunteers patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We do not assist the Mexican government as the article falsely claims,” said Assistant CBP Commissioner Kristi M. Clemens, who heads the agency’s office of public affairs in Washington. “The report is just flat wrong.

“While the Border Patrol does interact with the government of Mexico because it is required to do so by law when the detention of a legal or illegal alien produces an accusation of improper treatment, it does not report the activities of civilian, non-law-enforcement groups to the government of Mexico,” she said.

Miss Clemens said the Border Patrol, which CBP oversees, is required to report accusations of abuse or mistreatment to appropriate foreign consulates to allow them to interview the person in custody.

“This is consistent with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 that provides consular access to foreign nationals being detained by a foreign government,” Miss Clemens said. “This is the same agreement that protects United States citizens when they travel to foreign countries.”

On Tuesday, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario, Calif., citing documents of the Mexican secretary of foreign relations, said the Border Patrol was notifying the Mexican government where the Minutemen volunteers and other civilian border patrol groups had set up observation posts.

The newspaper said the documents showed that Mexican consulate representatives stayed in “close contact” with Border Patrol officials to ensure the safety of migrants trying to enter the United States and were being advised of the actions of all “vigilantes” along the border.

It said an August document posted on the Web site of Mexico’s secretary of foreign relations suggested that U.S. officials were giving out more details than required by the Vienna Convention. Part of that information, the newspaper said, was the location of U.S. citizens participating in volunteer border patrols.

Officials at the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) yesterday described as “outrageous” reports that its volunteers were being monitored by the Border Patrol, but said MCDC officials also learned that Border Patrol officials had given information to Mexico on the activities of Minutemen in Utah, Nevada, Illinois, Massachusetts and Tennessee.

“That is not a report on the location of Minutemen at the border, but political intelligence from our government to a foreign nation about the activities of American citizens petitioning our own government for redress of grievances,” MCDC spokeswoman Connie Hair said.

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