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U.S. Border Patrol agents have been ordered not to arrest illegal aliens along the section of the Arizona border where protesters patrolled last month because an increase in apprehensions there would prove the effectiveness of Minuteman volunteers, The Washington Times has learned.
More than a dozen agents, all of whom asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, said orders relayed by Border Patrol supervisors at the Naco, Ariz., station made it clear that arrests were “not to go up” along the 23-mile section of border that the volunteers monitored to protest illegal immigration.
“It was clear to everyone here what was being said and why,” said one veteran agent. “The apprehensions were not to increase after the Minuteman volunteers left. It was as simple as that.”
Another agent said the Naco supervisors “were clear in their intention” to keep new arrests to an “absolute minimum” to offset the effect of the Minuteman vigil, adding that patrols along the border have been severely limited.
But Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, yesterday said “credible sources” within the Border Patrol also had told him of the decision by Naco supervisors to keep new arrests to a minimum, saying he was angry but not surprised.
“It’s like telling a cop to stand by and watch burglars loot a store but don’t arrest any of them,” he said. “This is another example of decisions being made at the highest levels of the Border Patrol that are hurting morale and helping to rot the agency from within.
US Customs and Border Protection telephone number: (202) 354-1000
(Posted on May 13, 2005)