Lawmakers Call for Border ‘Tipping’ Inquiry

Sara A. Carter, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Cal.), May 23, 2006

Twenty-one congressional leaders have called for an independent investigation into reports that officials from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection were providing information to the Mexican government about civilian patrol groups.

The lawmakers are asking the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, to look into the relationship between Homeland Security and the Mexican Foreign Consulate.

In a letter sent Monday to David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, the congressional leaders expressed concern that the Mexican Foreign Ministry is unduly influencing the federal law enforcement agency.

“Additionally, with reports that our Border Patrol officials are identifying Minutemen locations and compromising their security by communicating these with the Mexican Foreign Ministry officials, we would also like you to identify the extent of the relationship between the Department of Homeland Security and the Mexican Foreign Ministry,” the letter stated.

The call for an independent investigation came on the heels of a letter sent last week by California Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, and Darryl Issa, R-Vista, along with Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, asking Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for a full investigation into all circumstances and events related to civilian border observation groups and the Mexican government.

Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe called for the independent investigation Monday based on a Daily Bulletin report earlier this month, which cited three Mexican government documents suggesting U.S. officials were giving out details of civilian groups’ locations.

The three reports on “vigilantes” in the United States are posted on Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations Web site.

The third report, dated August 2005, mentioned instances of Mexican consulate officials asking U.S. Border Patrol officials to provide them with information on civilian border watch groups in the United States.

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Andy Ramirez, chairman of the Chino-based Friends of the Border Patrol, said an independent investigation is imperative to uncovering the truth. He said information posted in the August 2005 document on the Mexican Web site detailing his volunteer group’s location near San Diego was only given to U.S. Border Patrol officials.

“It’s about time,” Ramirez said. “This is something that has taken place for years without our elected officials raising an eyebrow in protest. I believe this is actually only the tip of the iceberg with regard to Mexico’s influence over border enforcement.”

TJ Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents more than 10,000 Border Patrol agents, said agents have been complaining for years about the Mexican consulate’s influence over the department.

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