- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006

Just when you think the news from the border couldn’t get worse, it does. There are credible reports that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is tipping off the Mexican government on the operations of the Minutemen — the civilian patrol group dedicated to watching the border because the U.S. Government can’t, or won’t. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Ontario, Calif., reports that the Internet site of the Mexican secretary of foreign relations explains how Border Patrol regularly notifies Mexican authorities on locations of field operations of the Minutemen and other civilian border patrol groups as they conduct their vigils along the American side of the border.

For example, the Mexican government describes how one civilian patrol group, Friends of Border Patrol, conducted its operations from June to November 2005; the founder of the patrol, Andy Ramirez, had disclosed the location only to the U.S. Border Patrol. In another example, the Mexican Internet site reports, “The Mexican consul in Presidio [County, Texas] also contacted the chief of Border Patrol in the Marfa Sector to solicit his cooperation in case they detect any activity of ‘vigilantes,’ and was told to immediately contact the consulate if there was.”

A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection confirms these accounts to the Daily Bulletin and called such notification “standard procedure.” But the Department of Homeland Security describes the Mexican accounts as “inaccurate.”

Why then isn’t Homeland Security asking the Daily Bulletin to retract the story? Homeland Security spokesmen further explain that, in keeping with procedures outlined in the Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, “during a detention of a legal or illegal immigrant that produces an allegation of improper treatment, Border Patrol reports the allegation and allows the appropriate consulate to interview the individual in custody.”

Article 36 of the treaty does in fact provide that a detained foreign national reserves the right to have his government’s consular office notified of his arrest. The United States, writes Andrew McCarthy at National Review Online, then “must … pass along any communications the detainee addresses to his consulate, and allow representatives of the consulate to visit the detainee.”

Under the treaty, the United States is not obligated to share intelligence, especially before a foreign national has been detained. The intelligence it shares is limited to facts of the case — not the whereabouts of civilian patrol groups involved in entirely legal activities. If the Border Patrol is colluding with the Mexican government, as the foreign secretary’s Internet sites suggest, the Border Patrol is acting well outside the treaty.

This gives the lie to Homeland Security’s “explanation.” In no way does the treaty provide for the Mexican government’s own description of Border Patrol collusion. Either the Mexican government is lying or the Department of Homeland Security is undermining the security of the border. This should be shocking, but what’s shocking is that it has become so ordinary.

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