The U.S. Border Patrol is tipping off Mexican authorities on the positions of members of the Minuteman civilian patrols.
U.S. officials have agreed to the notification process to reassure the Mexican government that the illegal immigrants’ rights are being observed, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Ontario, Calif., reports.
When the Minuteman and other civilian border patrol groups help apprehend illegal immigrants, the Mexican government must be notified, according to three documents on the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations website.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed to the Daily Bulletin the notification process, describing it as a standard procedure.
“It’s not a secret where the Minuteman volunteers are going to be,” Mario Martinez said.
“This … simply makes two basic statements – that we will not allow any lawlessness of any type, and that if an alien is encountered by a Minuteman or arrested by the Minuteman, then we will allow that government to interview the person.”
But angered Minuteman members say the reporting virtually nullifies their effectiveness and could endanger lives.
“Now we know why it seemed like Mexican officials knew where we were all the time,” Chris Simcox, founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, told the Ontario paper.
“It’s unbelievable that our own government agency is sending intelligence to another country,” he said. “They are sending intelligence to a nation where corruption runs rampant, and that could be getting into the hands of criminal cartels.
“They just basically endangered the lives of American people.”
Martinez said any illegal alien apprehended has the right to request counsel.
“We have to give their counsel the information about their apprehension, and that includes where they are apprehended, whether a Minuteman volunteer spotted them or a citizen,” he said.
The spokesman said by entering into the cooperative agreement, the Border Patrol hoped to change Mexico’s perception of the group as vigilantes.
One of the documents on the website, “Actions of the Mexican Government in Relation to the Activities of Vigilante Groups,” describes a meeting with San Diego Border Patrol sector chief Darryl Griffen.
According to the document, Griffen “said that the Border Patrol will not permit any violence or any actions contrary to the law by the groups, and he is continuously aware of (the volunteer organizations’) operations.”
The document continues: “Mr. Griffen reiterated to the undersecretary his promise to notify the General Consul right away when the vigilantes detain or participate in the detention of any undocumented Mexicans.”
The documents name the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and the Chino, Calif.-based Friends of the Border Patrol.
TJ Bonner, president of the 10,000-member union National Border Patrol Council, told the Daily Bulletin his member agents have complained for years about the Mexican government “unduly influencing our enforcement policies.”
“That’s not a legitimate role for any foreign nation,” he said.
The Minuteman weblog said the Daily Bulletin’s story “does not report information told to the [Minuteman] media offices that the Border Patrol chiefs have also been passing along intelligence reports to the government of Mexico on the activities of Minutemen not only at the borders, but in locations such as Utah, Nevada, Illinois, Massachusetts and Tennessee.”
The weblog said one report contained estimated chapter membership numbers of Minutemen in Illinois and a statement on activities. The report noted the group didn’t seem to know any politicians there, indicating the Illinois Minutemen had not acquired political clout.
The Minuteman blog commented: “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.”
Border agents interviewed by the paper said they have been asked to report the location of all civilian patrols to sector headquarters. But they are not to file the groups’ names in reports if they spot illegal immigrants.
“Last year an internal memo notified all agents not to give credit to Minuteman volunteers or others who call in sightings of illegal aliens,” said an agent who spoke to the Daily Bulletin on condition he not be identified. “We were told to list it as a citizen call and leave it at that. Many times, we were told not to go out to Minuteman calls.”