Jewish World Review Nov. 13, 2002 / 8 Kislev, 5763

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

Who'll protect the whistleblowers?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | While lawmakers in Washington pat themselves on the back for cooking up a massively expensive and mostly cosmetic Homeland Security Department bill, many of the real heroes of homeland security continue to suffer recriminations and retaliation.

Border Patrol agent Keith Olson, the arresting officer in Bellingham, Wash., who was responsible for obtaining the fingerprints of illegal alien sniper suspect Lee Malvo last December, has been the subject of two internal investigations during the past three weeks. Instead of pinning a medal on his chest and giving Olson a raise for taking the prints of Malvo that eventually led to his arrest in the Washington, D.C., area killing spree, federal officials are conducting a probe of his conduct.

Meanwhile, Border Patrol agent Daryl Schermerhorn has been castigated by an INS higher-up for publicly criticizing the decision by federal immigration authorities to release Malvo and his illegal alien mother earlier this year pending deportation proceedings.

On Oct. 29, Schermerhorn, a Northwest regional union representative for Border Patrol agents in Washington state, explained to FOX News' Bill O'Reilly that the catch-and-release policy for illegal aliens is a result of the government's perilous penny-pinching:

O'REILLY: Why were they happy to keep Malvo and his mother in the country? Why?

SCHERMERHORN: Well, what's the price of an airplane ticket from Seattle to Jamaica? That's why. The cost of housing them in jail until that time, that's why. They're trying to save a few dollars. It's nothing new for the INS to release criminals onto the streets and for them to commit murder. There's been hundreds murdered in the United States at the hands of illegal aliens.

SCHERMERHORN: ... It won't change until people are willing to talk about it, and there's very few of us in the Border Patrol willing to talk about it. I represent the Border Patrol agents through the National Border Patrol Council. We're willing to talk about it.

Schermerhorn's candor has been met by caustic, insulting criticism from at least one INS official. On Oct. 30, Robin F. Baker, an assistant regional director in the INS Western Regional Office in Laguna Niguel, Calif., sent an e-mail to Schermerhorn, which was copied to nearly 50 other INS employees:

"Nobody, not even a person of your monumental intelligence, could have predicted what path the young Mr. Malvo would take.Your agenda, whatever it may be, is counterproductive to the thousands of [detention and removal] personnel who are doing their best in spite of the limitations placed upon them by Congress, uncooperative foreign consulates, [non-governmental organizations], pro bono attorneys, special interest groups, ect. [sic] Have you ever detained a non-criminal mother and her 16 year old child for a lengthy period of time? Have you had to face the wrath of the above mentioned groups?"

Baker did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Ignore the hysterics. Of course, no one could have predicted that Malvo would go on a cross-country killing spree, as government prosecutors have alleged. But there were two people at INS who had a gut instinct that Malvo and his mother-two admitted illegal aliens with no documention and no means of support-should be detained and deported immediately for the good of the country: Border Patrol officer Keith Olson and his fellow agent, Raymond Ruiz.

Agent Ruiz warned last December: "Subject Uma James is a native and citizen of Jamaica with no immigration documents allowing her to be or remain in the United States legally. She has no roots or close family ties in the United States and is likely to abscond."

If INS and immigration court officials had heeded the warnings of the arresting officers, instead of caving in to the "pro bono attorneys and special interest groups" that Baker whined about in his e-mail, Malvo would never have had the opportunity to pursue his "counterproductive" agenda. And his mother wouldn't be on the lam today.

That's right. James (also known as Una James and Ana James), remains on the loose- in violation of the $1,500 bond posted on her behalf by the Northwest Immigrant Rights' Project of Seattle. Neither the Northwest Immigrant Rights' Project nor INS investigators have been able to track her down. Last week, Virginia commonwealth's attorney Robert Horan said FBI agents have now joined the hunt for her in Washington state.

Will a $37 billion Homeland Security Department prevent another Malvogate? As long as federal immigration authorities remain more committed to stifling whistleblowers instead of protecting them: Fat chance.

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JWR contributor Michelle Malkin is the author of, most recently, "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores". To comment, please click here.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate