Thursday, May 24, 2012

Arizona Border Security Committee

In 2010, with some tweaks to SB1070, House Bill 2162 established the formation of a Joint Border Security Advisory Committee designed to discuss the critical border issues for our state.  The committee is created from the appointments by the Speaker of the House, the Senate President and the Governor, and includes Sheriffs from border counties.

When reviewing the meeting minutes for the JBSAC, it was interesting to note that the Speaker Of the House, Kirk Adams, was listed as one of the members of the committee, yet he never actually attended any of the meetings prior to his resignation.  He chose, rather, to send someone to "represent" him instead.

It was also interesting to note that half of the bills which the committee discussed that were critical to border issues, were ones that Mr. Adams was not present to vote for as a member of the Rules Committee.  Mr. Adams was absent on March 8th to vote for SB1546 and again on March 14th for SB1495.  I think we can guess what he was busy focusing on those first couple of weeks in March.

A summary of the meeting minutes for 2011 can be viewed here.

We've discussed Rep. Russ Jones before.  Mr. Jones was one of Kirk Adams' appointments to the JBSAC just a few months before Adams resigned.  After reading the minutes as well as viewing video of the meetings, it was clear what Mr. Jones' main issue was with the border.  His biggest concern is the need to see a quicker response at the border for trucks and more funding for Customs and Border Protection Agents.  This isn't a big surprise since his own, personal company deals with the trucking and manufacturing industries in shipping goods across the US/Mexico border.  Reducing the "bottleneck" would allow his company to transfer more goods back and forth which obviously helps his bottom line.  Conflict of interest?

Mr. Jones is also a Treasurer for the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for a group called the Border Trade Alliance.  His company, RL Jones, is also a contributor to the BTA.  The BTA has been pushing for more Customs and Border Protection agents in order to facilitate trade.  While it is certainly understandable to want to have more personnel at the border in order to man the newly built lanes, one has to wonder if the "border protection" part of the Customs and Border Protection agents is really what the BTA, and Rep Jones, is concerned about.

Alan Bersin, is a former California Secretary of Education (who must have been so knowledgeable about border security that he had to be appointed while Congress was in recess in March 2010).  He is currently Obama's "Border Czar".  Mr. Bersin spoke at a BTA conference in the fall of 2010 and said:

I want to offer an alternative vision.  We have to start thinking about the border in a much more holistic and broad way than simply a line on the map between Mexico and the United States...Canada and the United States...We have to start thinking about the borders not only as juridical lines on a map, which they are, and ports of entry that we build, and the infrastructure...we have to think about the border and the flows of goods and people...and this notion of flows is much more consistent with where the WORLD is in thinking of borders as flows of goods and people, capitol and ideas.  Because, we limit ourselves if we think about juridical lines and physical ports of entry and we have to get more efficient at the physical lines, yes we do, no question about it.  And we need more resources at the physical line, but we actually have to think differently about what a border is and what an inspection is...

That sounds an awful lot like an "open borders" mentality.  Remember, he is Obama's border Czar!  Since when does our country have to prescribe to and be "consistent" with the same (faulty) notions of what a border is in the eyes of the world?  How is that notion working out for Arab countries?  North and South Korea?  In fact, try and tell Israel that they should have free flowing borders with their neighbors who want to wipe them off of the face of the earth.

Mr. Bersin's complete remarks can be seen here.

We don't begrudge Rep. Jones for wanting to speed up traffic at the border to help increase and grow his business.  We just question his motives and whether he can participate on a Border Security Advisory Council (as well as be appointed to attend the Legislative Border Conferences) with an open mind.

The wrap-up on Rep. Jones, border security and SB1070 will be in our next installment.