I have long since suspected this, but it makes me very sad.
U.S. tipping Mexico to Minuteman patrols
By Sara A. Carter, Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
While Minuteman civilian patrols are keeping an eye out for illegal border crossers, the U.S. Border Patrol is keeping an eye out for Minutemen -- and telling the Mexican government where they are.
According to three documents on the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Web site, the U.S. Border Patrol is to notify the Mexican government as to the location of Minutemen and other civilian border patrol groups when they participate in apprehending illegal immigrants -- and if and when violence is used against border crossers.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed the notification process, describing it as a standard procedure meant to reassure the Mexican government that migrants' rights are being observed.
"It's not a secret where the Minuteman volunteers are going to be," Mario Martinez said Monday.
"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."
Minuteman members were not so sanguine about the arrangement, however, saying that reporting their location to Mexican officials nullifies their effectiveness along the border and could endanger their lives.
"Now we know why it seemed like Mexican officials knew where we were all the time," said Chris Simcox, founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. "It's unbelievable that our own government agency is sending intelligence to another country. 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."
Officials with the Mexican consulate in Washington, D.C., could not be reached for comment Monday.
Martinez said reporting the location of immigrant apprehensions to consulate representatives is common practice if an illegal immigrant requests counsel or believes they have been mistreated.
"Once an illegal alien is apprehended, they can request counsel," he said. "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."
Martinez said Mexico's official perception of the civilian groups is that they are vigilantes, a belief the Border Patrol hoped to allay by entering into the cooperative agreement.
One of the documents on the Web site, "Actions of the Mexican Government in Relation to the Activities of Vigilante Groups," states that Mexican consulate representatives stay in close contact with Border Patrol chiefs to ensure the safety of migrants trying to enter the U.S., those being detained and the actions of all "vigilantes" along the border.
"The Mexican consul in Presidio also contacted the chief of the Border Patrol in the Marfa Sector to solicit his cooperation in case they detect any activity of `vigilantes,' and was told to immediately contact the consulate if there was," according to the document.
"Presidio" refers to Presidio County, Texas, which is in the Big Bend region and a gateway to northern Mexico.
The document also describes a meeting with San Diego Border Patrol sector chief Darryl Griffen.
"(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," according to the document. "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 specifically named the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and its patrols, which began monitoring Arizona's southern border in April 2005, as well as Friends of the Border Patrol, a Chino-based nonprofit.
TJ Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing more than 10,000 Border Patrol agents, said agents have complained for years about the Mexican consulate's influence over the agency.
"It worries me (that the Mexican government) seems to be unduly influencing our enforcement policies. That's not a legitimate role for any foreign nation," Bonner said, though he added, "It doesn't surprise me."
Border Patrol agents interviewed by the Daily Bulletin said they have been asked to report to sector headquarters the location of all civilian volunteer groups, but to not 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 one agent, who spoke on the 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."
The document also mentions locations of field operations of Friends of the Border Patrol, which patrolled the San Diego sector from June to November 2005. Mexican officials had access to the exact location of the group founded by Andy Ramirez, which ran its patrols from the Rough Acre Ranch, a private property in McCain Valley.
Ramirez said that for safety reasons, he disclosed the location of his ranch patrol only to San Diego Border Patrol and law enforcement officials. The group did not apprehend or spot any undocumented migrants in that area.
"We did not release this information ... to the media or anyone else," Ramirez said. "We didn't want to publicize that information. But there it is, right on the Mexican government's Web site, and our government gave it to them."