SAN DIEGO - Rallies were planned against the new immigration bill in San Diego and cities in other states, as a government insider came forward to Team 10 to say the Border Patrol is ill-equipped to double its size, and other sources said the bill will "militarize" the border.
“It’s always the opposite of common sense, we have done this in the past, why are we doing this again?" said a Team 10 source inside the Border Patrol, about an amendment tacked onto the Senate’s bill on immigration reform.
It’s a $40 billion investment called the Hoeven-Corker amendment. It is the most controversial part of the bill and calls for another 20,000 Border Patrol agents, along with building a bigger fence.
A long-time source inside the Border Patrol is worried about the agency's ability to properly train and background check thousands of new agents, based on history, he said.
The agency has doubled in size in recent years, under an order by former President George W. Bush in 2004. The bill would double the number of agents again, from roughly 10,000 agents today.
The source first told Team 10 about what he called lax training that led to "rogue agents" back in January. The insider called some agents a "menace to society" because he said training was cut and standards was lowered for the new recruits in order to meet the quota.
"The money is better spent by keeping the current agents, enforcing current the laws, big is not necessarily better," Team 10's inside source said.
The American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego said the bill amounts to the militarization of the border.
Mitra Ebadolahi, border litigation attorney for the ACLU, said she suspects the bill will please lobbyists working the halls of Congress.
“Military contracts are seeking lucrative government contracts now that the wars in the Middle East are winding down,” Ebadolahi said. She added the bill does not mention terrorism and said the bill does not provide "better or more effective policing."
Congresswoman Susan Davis supports the bill. But, she said the money should be spent on infrastructure, like sophisticated equipment to monitor thousands of people who cross the border. Rep. Davis said that would speed up the process.
"We know that many many jobs are lost as a result of what happens at the border long, long wait times, along with commerce and economic activity," Rep. Davis said.
In other developments Wednesday, rallies were held along the U.S. border with Mexico on in several states, because of the Senate's immigration reform amendment, including Vista in San Diego County.
The rallies were sponsored by several groups, including The Border Network for Human Rights, Presente.org, Detention Watch Network and the Southern Borders Communities Coalition. Their news release states:
The Senate’s immigration reform package was passed with the last-minute addition of a “border surge” that's guaranteed to increase racial profiling, abuse, death and other destruction in border communities. The bi-partisan Corker-Hoeven amendment in the Senate proposes increasing the number of border patrol agents by 20,000 while adding 700 miles of additional border wall. Increased spending of billions of tax dollars on unnecessary surveillance and other wasteful technology at a border that has been certified as safe by the FBI and other sources is also included.
Also on Wednesday morning ahead of the rallies, California's two senators sent out a joint news release urging the House to pass the immigration bill.
The release by senators Barbara Boxer and and Diane Feinstein reads:
“Our state has the most at stake in any immigration reform debate. We are home to nearly a quarter of the nation’s undocumented immigrant population – more than any other state ... Our constituents and our communities are ready and waiting for reform.”