June 19, 1998

Bounty Hunters to Seek Out Immigrants!

INS plan seeks to save lives?

By Daniel L. Muñoz

U.S. and Mexican officials in Washington D.C. announced a here-to-for secret plan to pay up to $5,000 for civilian "Bounty Hunters" to seek out those that they believe are illegal aliens seeking to enter the United States.

Cloaked under humanistic rhetoric the new program seeks to reduce the number of immigrants being injured while crossing the Sonoran desert, or drowning in the Rio Grande, or falling down deep ravines in San Diego's East County mountains, the INS is establishing a defecto "Border Patrol" out of non-trained civilians who roam the countryside! Not only does the new bounty plan, informally deputize every right-wing extremist militia group to hunt down "those that appear to be illegal aliens," but it also seeks to pay a bounty to the Civil Air Patrol for flying over wilderness areas, such as Jamul, and search for illegal aliens from the air.

The plan was immediately denounced by Herman Baca, president of the Committee on Chicano Rights(CCR) as being "idiotic and dangerous." The publisher of La Prensa San Diego was immediately interviewed on KNSD-TV 7/39 on the plan. Muñoz denounced it as being a "bounty plan" similar to the ones used in Texas after the Mexican-American war that led to thousands of Mexicans being shot, hung, jailed and, if lucky, deported to Mexico even though they had every right to be in the U.S. under the "Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo".

Baca made the point that "the U.S. Congress passed the 1987 Simpson/Rodino legislation that is responsible for the ever increasing number of deaths of undocumented workers. "The reason it has failed," continued Baca, " is that while all the police/military actions that have been taken to turn the border into a no-mans land, only one part of the Simpson-Rodino bill. The government has never seen fit to implement the "employer sanctions" part of the law that exerts the massive pull factor bringing the workers across the border. There would not be any massive illegal immigration if agri-business, corporations, the secondary labor market did not actively seek and encourage workers to illegally migrate into the sweatshops and killing fields of agri-business."

INS Commissioner Doris Missner who announced the program with Mexican Ambassador Jesus Reyes-Heroles stated: "The need for this public safety initiative couldn't be clearer." The question we have is: Since when did the Justice Department usurp the role of the United States Congress to change Federal law? Perhaps the U.S. Attorney General should reread past rulings from her own department which stopped the use of local police, sheriffs, taxi-cab drivers, and other assorted civilians from carrying out the duties of the Border Patrol, who are sworn officers of the United States and serve as agents only after training and certification. No matter how Missner sugar-coats it, this initiative is a thinly disguised sham to turn `Bounty Hunters' loose on a defenseless group of people drawn here shamelessly by the inducements of the business community.

Baca concluded his statements by labeling the INS proposal "extremely dangerous,' and one which shamefully duped Mexican officials, and deputizes every hillbilly, redneck, racist and militia to begin to hunt, stop and arrest, for a bounty, every Mexican looking individual along the U.S. border."