Bits of News About DHS Checkpoints at the Edges of America

By David North on November 17, 2014

One of the useful things that the Department of Homeland Security does is to operate checkpoints at the edges of the nation.

By definition, these locations monitor traffic within the United States, but near our borders. Their main purpose is to intercept illegals and wanted people who have managed to get over our borders and who now want access to the middle of the country.

U.S. Virgin Islands. This came to my attention, again, recently when I read one of those bland press releases from Customs and Border Protection, this one headed: "Virgin Islands CBP Identifies U.S. Citizen with Outstanding Warrant from Texas".

Since I have been to the Virgin Islands several times and occasionally write for their lively alternative publication, the St. Thomas Source, I read the piece, hoping to find out something about immigration and those islands. No such luck; the guy they stopped, as he headed for a flight to the United States, was wanted on a DWI charge in Texas.

What I found intriguing was what happened next, a bit of commonsense law enforcement. The CBP officers checked with cops in Atlanta and allowed the Texan to board the plane (at his own expense) and fly to Atlanta, where he was intercepted planeside. So no expatriation complications, no government-funded plane travel (at least to Atlanta), no lawyers. Smart police work!

It struck me that the wanted man, Matt Leath, had probably simply been on vacation in the Virgin Islands and had not known (as I did not know when I first went there) that one would be inspected by a law enforcement agency on the way back to the Mainland.

The rationale, vis-a-vis immigration enforcement, is that there is little point paroling all the beaches of all those Virgin Islands, which illegals have been known to use to enter the territory. It is much more cost effective to check people flying out of St. Thomas and St. Croix as they board planes heading to the States. There is a similar bit of exit control in Guam, as passengers headed to Hawaii are similarly screened, even though there is another inspection upon arrival in Honolulu.

Southern California. As I looked over the set of press releases from CBP, I ran into another one about another wanted man at another checkpoint, but it told a different story. While some of the arrests made by the Border Patrol are stories of high adventure, sometimes, as in this case, it is merely the capture of a hapless crook who walks into the arms of the Patrol.

Here's the scene — it is in the desert some miles east of San Diego in the desolate area of the Salton Sea (a dying salt-filed lake in the middle of nowhere). I was there once, and have no desire to go back. One of the few north-south roads coming up from the border to the middle of California is state highway 86, running along the edge of the Salton Sea. It is well known that there are Border Patrol checkpoints in such areas looking for illegals who are heading north.

Entering this scene from the south, presumably, was a 62-year-old illegal alien, a seasoned con. He had been convicted many times for illegal entry, had been arrested and jailed for "attempted first degree murder" in Nebraska, according to the press release, and had been previously deported at least once.

The release says he "approached the primary inspection area of the checkpoint on foot." You have to assume that he was either delusional or planning to surrender to the Patrol by taking that approach. It is certainly an area where pedestrians are as rare as hens' teeth. But the BP pressies do not speculate.

Google Goofs, or Maybe Google Subverts. At this point I wanted a clearer view of the Salton Sea geography and the neighborhood checkpoints so I started working with Google maps. One search led to another and then to an Internet site that struck me as both highly pertinent and downright subversive. Its heading is: "Routes to Avoid - Border Patrol Checkpoints".

This is an interactive map, showing the location of Border Patrol checkpoints and providing additional information on each of them, from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. It is very useful information for coyotes and for individual illegals.

I can see why the government has not eliminated the map, on the grounds that it would be criticized for censorship. But why has Google permitted this to continue? Maybe Google has not noticed this use of its maps, or maybe it is consciously trying to undermine the enforcement of the immigration law.

The map is not only subversive, it is often written in bad English and continues oodles of spelling errors. Altogether it does not reflect well on that company.