INS must have more important things to do

By William Buchan

I have often been prompted to write concerning the Border Patrol actions at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal; others have already expressed excellent points of view over the past four months.

But two recent events have finally spurred me to action. The first was that I ran across a lead article on the subject in this week’s Seattle Weekly, with the great cover “Rough Seize — kicking Juans out of the San Juans,” in which several Orcas islanders told their stories. The second: on June 18, getting herded into the Customs enclosure in Anacortes yet again (fifth time) for a citizenship check.

So here goes.

I got caught up in the very first Border Patrol inspection back in February. In an effort to find out what prompted this, I called Washington State Ferries and was told that this was strictly a Border Patrol action. They gave me Joe Giuliano’s number and I called him.

Mr. Giuliano made the case that the inspection was an anti-terrorism measure, and referenced the Millenium Plot bomber who came in from Canada to Port Angeles. I pointed out that (at the time) there was no ferry connection from Canada to the San Juans. He said they were going to continue these inspections from time to time to keep terrorists from thinking that they could come in through the islands. Since that call, the stops have become a weekly or so occurrence.

Some questions on the effectiveness of these stops: Why is the Border Patrol picking on San Juan County? When we ride the ferries, we are not coming in from another country (except for the Sidney ferry, which is rightfully checked). When was the last time the Border Patrol stopped all cars on I-5 at borders between mainland counties and checked everyone’s citizenship? Why not the Bainbridge, Vashon and Edmonds ferries too?

So how many terrorists have been rounded up in these stops? I understand that even Mr. Giuliano admits that the number is “zero.” Yes, they have stopped a few dozen Mexican illegals, virtually all of whom were employed in the islands or with businesses serving the islands. But this has virtually nothing to do with Mr. Giuliano’s stated goal of interdicting terrorists.

First of all, all a terrorist would need to do to pass is to be able to answer “yes” to the citizenship question with a standard American accent, since no corroborating ID is requested. Secondly, a terrorist (like the drug-runners) would be far more likely to enter the country across the B.C./Whatcom County border, just a ditch in many areas.

The Border Patrol is always complaining that with so many agents on the Mexican border, they were short up here. If they have enough personnel to send eight or so agents for one day a week in Anacortes, they have more than they need to secure the real border on the Canadian mainland.

Yes, Mr. Giuliano has rounded up and caused to be summarily deported some hapless Mexican illegals who were here just trying to make an honest living. Should they have come here illegally? No. But this is a national problem that will not be solved or impacted in any way by Mr. Giuliano’s operations at the Anacortes ferry terminal.

The Border Patrol must have more important things to do.

— William Buchan is an Eastsound resident and a retired Air Force colonel.