CRAP SHOW: When Clinton Deployed Marines On The Border
Remembering ‘Operation Gatekeeper‘
President Trump has deployed 4,000 National Guard troops along the US-Mexico Border as promised. Even the truculent California Governor Jerry Brown has agreed to support the President on this latest move.
Under U.S. Code Title 32, which Trump used as the basis for his proclamation, the federally funded troops remain under state control, sent only at the determination of a participating state’s governor.
Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both used Title 32 to direct National Guard forces to the southern border. In addition, the authority of Title 10 has for decades been used to federally fund military groups fighting transnational gangs that attempt to cross U.S. borders, according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report.
Trending: California Recall Faces Ironic Twist
In 1997, following through on campaign and State of the Union promises, then-President Bill Clinton deployed active duty US Marines onto the US-Mexico Border to curb illegal immigration and illegal drug trafficking.
C-Span chronicled the moment during the 1995 State of the Union:
“All Americans, not only in the States most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.”
Amazing how a couple decades, and desperation for votes, can change the tune of an entire political party.
Clinton “Sends In The Marines!”
A mere couple of days after the Marines deployed along the Texas-Mexico border, at the El Polvo Crossing on the Rio Grande, outside the town of Redford; is when and where an incident occurred that would forever change US border security policy.
Esequiel Hernandez Jr., a high school sophomore who had just turned 18, ventured out with his herd of 43 goats near his family’s home, guiding them through the brush to graze. As usual, to protect his flock from wild dogs or coyotes, he carried with him his .22-caliber rifle.
In the distance, something moved. Approaching him were four heavily camouflaged U.S. Marines, armed with M-16s, looking for drug smugglers.
When they came across Hernandez, the four Marines were wearing ghillie suits, a type of camouflage designed to resemble foliage, and had blackened faces. They spotted the young man from about 200 meters away, the Marine team leader said into his radio, according to transcripts that later became public and were played in a PBS documentary about the shooting.
“He’s heading towards us,” Cpl. Clemente Banuelos said. “He’s armed with a rifle, appears to be herding uh … some goats or something.”
“You should remain in your position,” a Marine command responded, “and try not to be seen, but you should know what to do.”
“We’re taking fire,” Banuelos said. Hernandez had shot from across a ravine, the Marines said. When he walked away, the camouflaged Marines followed him.
“As soon as he readies that rifle back down range, we’re taking him,” Banuelos said. From a distance, they tracked the teenager for about 15 minutes. Then, they “inexplicably” rushed toward him, a House report later said. According to the Marines, Hernandez then raised his gun toward them. Banuelos fired his weapon.
“Our Marines took him out,” one of the team members said on the radio.
Then the accusations flew:
The Los Angeles Times tells what happened to the Marines involved:
A serviceman who killed a teen-ager during a border drug patrol has been cleared of wrongdoing by the Marine Corps.
A report released Monday concluded that Cpl. Clemente Banuelos was protecting a fellow Marine when he shot Esequiel Hernandez Jr. last May in Redford, a rural Rio Grande community 200 miles southeast of El Paso.
According to the military, the 18-year-old Hernandez, who was out herding his goats, fired at the Marines twice and raised his .22-caliber rifle a third time when Banuelos shot him once with an M-16.
Hernandez’s family disputes the military’s account.
A state and a federal grand jury each declined to indict Banuelos in the shooting. An investigation by Joint Task Force 6, an agency that coordinates anti-drug missions between the military and civilian police, concluded the Marines acted within mission guidelines.
Fallout and Aftermath
PBS explains the military’s policy change after Hernandez’s death:
Shortly afterward, the administration suspended all military operations along the border. By January 1999, the U.S. Department of Defense ANNOUNCED A NEW POLICY allowing armed groups along the border but only with specific permission from the Secretary of Defense or his deputy.
NBC-News San Diego looked at Operation Gatekeeper 15 years later:
The 15th anniversary of “Operation Gatekeeper” is being observed with outrage by humanitarian activists on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
They estimate that as many as 5,600 people have died while crossing the border through rugged mountain and desert areas of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas since the operation was launched Oct. 1, 1994.
The report also calls for “sensible and humane immigration and border policies … to that end, reforms should provide legal and safe avenues for crossing the border …”
ACLU board member William Aceves explained that passage meant “facilitating the immigration process,” not an open border.
Added ACLU Executive Director Kevin Keenan: “We certainly are opposed to open borders, as such. We favor the national government’s ability to control its borders and to control national security.
“That said,” Keenan continued, “what we oppose is the U.S., and to a lesser extent Mexico, violating international human rights with a death count that’s now well over 5,000.”
In response, Peter Nunez, a board member of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, called the assertion of human rights violations “ludicrous.”
Whereas Congressman Beto O’Rourke uses the tragedy to cash in on cheap political points going into the midterm elections:
This is what happens when we militarize the border. 18-year old Ezequiel Hernandez, U.S. citizen, killed by a U.S. service member patrolling the border. https://t.co/0B3cjzlAEN
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) April 3, 2018
These snide little comments are not going to help you against Ted Cruz!
Wrong Place/Wrong Time…For Everyone Involved
So in the end, what did happen at that crossing on that May evening in 1997? The Austin Chronicle was able to piece together a clearer picture of events:
Esequiel Jr. got home from school about 4pm on the day he died. He thanked the driver of the big yellow bus and walked down the lane to his family’s little rancheria. He studied his driver’s handbook, then he helped his father unload some hay. After that it was time to walk the goats.
Banuelos led his men out of the hide site even earlier that afternoon. It was three full hours before nightfall. They hadn’t even seen the goats yet. They were hot, tired, hungry, dehydrated, and still dressed like shrubs. They looked forward to being relieved shortly after dark.
As Team 7 crept toward the observation post, Banuelos spotted a man on a horse on the Mexican side. The corporal put his team in a halt. Just then, Esequiel and his goats crested the small bluff. The soldiers — who had been warned to expect armed lookouts and “unfriendly villagers” — saw a young man of Latino descent carrying a .22 rifle.
Banuelos whispered into the radio: “We have an armed individual, about 200 meters from us.” A time-stamped recording of the radio traffic showed it was 6:05pm. “He’s in front of the old fort. He’s headed toward us. He’s armed with a rifle. He appears to be in, uh, herding goats or something.”
Hernandez saw something move in the brush at the bottom of the far ravine. He had warned friends and family members of what he would do if he ever found the wild dog he believed had taken his goat. The goat-herder may have fired once, as Banuelos and Blood claimed. (One spent shell was later found in the rifle.) Or he may have fired twice, as Torrez and Wieler recalled. Or he may not have fired at all, as the lack of gunpowder residue on his hands later suggested.
What is certain is that the four tired soldiers believed they had been fired at by a drug smuggler. None was hit. Banuelos ordered the men prone. Face down in the hot gravel, he told them to “lock and load.”
Hernandez stood on his toes. He peered across the desert. Torrez recalled he was “bobbing and weaving … like when you look at something in the distance, you stand on your tippy-toes and try to move your head around to see.”
“We’re taking fire,” Banuelos radioed at 6:07pm. Capt. McDaniel was working out in a gym at the Marfa compound when he heard the news. He sprinted to the nearby operations center. He and his fellow officers immediately began debating what actions were authorized under the JTF-6 rules of engagement.
Banuelos and his teammates were still carrying the ROE flash cards they were given a week earlier. The first of six points listed was: “Force may be used to defend yourself and others present.” The second and third points were: “Do not use force if other defensive measures could be effective,” and “Use only minimum force necessary.”
But Banuelos didn’t have time to re-read his card. Nor was he aware that McDaniel and the other officers were in the midst of an intense debate about what he could and could not do. At 6:11pm, he radioed the operations center: “As soon as he readies that rifle back down range, we are taking him.”
Lance Cpl. James Steen was manning the radio in Marfa. He replied: “Roger, fire back.” McDaniel exploded. He and the other officers in the operations center believed that Steen’s authorization to “fire back” was wrong, according to written statements. Steen was pulled off the radio. Sgt. Dewbre took the chair. But the order to “fire back” was neither corrected nor withdrawn. Dewbre radioed at 6:14pm: “Just give us an update.”
To keep the boy within his line of sight, Banuelos led his team down another stony arroyo and up the opposite bank. From the top of the next plateau, the soldiers could see in all directions. Banuelos told Dewbre: “We have a visual.” Dewbre replied: “You’re to follow the ROE.” Banuelos did not acknowledge Dewbre’s order. Nearly four minutes had passed since the incorrect order to “fire back” was issued. McDaniel and the other officers discussed whether or not Banuelos had heard Dewbre. But they did not re-transmit the instruction.
With 4,000 soldiers returning to the border for the first time in nearly a decade, let’s hope everyone has learned hard lessons and that history does not repeat itself.
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