CNN's Lou Dobbs interview with T. J. Bonner, President, National Border Patrol Council

By Lou Dobbs, CNN, CNN News, June 15, 2004

DOBBS: As we reported, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security today held a hearing on the many problems facing us with border security. My next guest testified before the committee today. T.J. Bonner says our borders are no more secure now than they were before September 11th.

BONNER: ...we certainly are in a mess. Morale is at an all-time low and agents are just waiting for other agencies, state and local, to get some money so they start hiring again. When that happens, there will be a mass exodus of border patrol agents.

DOBBS: ...border patrol agents are basically forced to step aside under current policy, and are not even apprehending illegal aliens as they cross the border...

BONNER: That's correct. And it's just amazing. And it's a major source of frustration and demoralization. Agents are forced to sit eight to 10 hours a day in one spot in order not to move from that spot, even if aliens are crossing within yards of them. It's really mind boggling... This comes straight from the top and nobody has signed an order to that effect, but those are the standing orders out there in the field, and if agents violate them, they are subject to discipline.

DOBBS: ...what in the world are border communities -- how are they responding to these orders and to basically a sweep of the hand by the border patrol inviting illegal aliens in?

BONNER: It's not just the border communities, Lou, it's every part of America, because illegals don't camp out right at the border after they make an entry. They are heading to the heartland of America, to take jobs away from American citizens.

DOBBS: ...Illegal aliens once apprehended are... issued an order to appear before a hearing, but in point of fact, no one is following up to make certain that occurs, and in fact it doesn't...

BONNER: Probably, 90 to 95 percent of the people who are issued to show cause to appear, abscond, they never show up. And we don't even require a bona fide address. We have no way to verify it in the first place, but we don't even require it.

...I don't know what it's going to take to wake these people up. To wake up, not just the Congress, but to wake up America, as to what's going on. Because this is not just an issue of economics of people coming across to take jobs, mixed in with that could well be a number of terrorists. So it's clearly a matter of homeland security...

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