Dannels was one of five witnesses who testified to a mostly Republican led U.S. Senate hearing in front of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Tuesday, March 17th, 2015.
"I was talking with the Sheriff in Yuma, Sheriff Wilmont, last night, uhhh" Dannels said at approximately 2 hrs 14 minutes into the hearing.
"There is an issue right now, uhh, with those illegals that have child, er, pornography, that...pornography, child pornography, they won't prosecute."
Speaking of abusing children, the Sheriff was quick to note his county, Cochise County, in Arizona, was quick to categorize juveniles carrying marijuana across the border as adults. Once categorized as adults, these wayward youths are ripe to serve stiff prison sentences as if they had the wisdom of adults. In the old days, categorization of a juvenile as an adult offender was generally reserved for extremely serious criminals who are unlikely to be rehabilitated, for example, murderers. Hungry children who are convinced to ferry drugs across the border lack the guilty mind necessary for adult-length prison sentences.
Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrerra says when it is a four-day weekend, some Border Patrol agents won't bother doing the paperwork on drug smuggling cases. Instead, they do an administrative seizure on the vehicle, release the immigrants and let the non-four-day weekend crew come get the vehicle. The apprehending agents then return to more important tasks than prosecuting drug smugglers.
Of course, if agents are not bothering to do the paperwork on drug smugglers, the statistics won't be very high.
"I heard, we are not even prosecuting, for example, uhhh marijuana smugglers, unless they have at least five hundred pounds of marijuana....was that an accurate assessment," Senator Ron Johnson, (R-Wis) the head of the Committee, queried Sheriff Dannels.
"Again, so the drug traffickers use teenagers because?" Johnson prompted Sheriff Dannels.
"They won't prosecute," Dannels parroted back.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, (R-New Hampshire) spent her time making immigrants out to be heroine traffickers. In doing so, Ayotte failed to mention an important part of the solution to the undocumented immigrant problem, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which Senator Johnson had at least managed to mention.
Eva Millona, Executive Director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) responded to Senator Ayotte's remarks by saying, "Senator Ayotte's outrageous bogeyman statements today discredit her longstanding, serious work toward bipartisan solutions that benefit the people of New Hampshire and make our nation safer."
The witnesses for the hearing were clearly stacked in favor of the Republican supported border-security-first proposition. Interestingly enough, none of the witnesses, including Cabrerra, had any clue about what percentage of the cross-border traffic were people seeking relief from starvation and what percentage were drug traffickers. One common theme was popular with most of the witnesses: More boots should be on the ground searching for drug traffickers and terrorists.
Senator Carper (D-Del) was one of the few in the hearing who made the point about the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrerra could have his extra boots chasing drug dealers if he was not so busy chasing poor people through the desert. Cabrerra made Carper's point when he used the example of a team of Border Patrol agents being tied up with 90 to 100 immigrants sent by traffickers as decoys so the traffickers could do an end run around the agents with drugs.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform was passed in the U.S. Senate, but a few conservative U.S. House of Representative leaders refused to allow the bill to come to a vote. One of the provisions of the law was to increase the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents, already the biggest law enforcement agency in the U.S. The NBPC opposed the senate bill.
|Monica Weisberg-Stewart Rio Grande Guardian|
Unfortunately, today's hearing was so political with rhetoric and inflated figures, the seriousness of border security and immigration reform was quickly lost. Senator Johnson was running a kangaroo court.
If the Securing the Southwest Border: Perspectives from Beyond the Beltway hearing was a serious effort, the Senators from Wisconsin and New Hampshire would have been considering a plan to give every single immigrant in the nation one last opportunity to come out of hiding. That would include all criminals but with a pot at the end of the rainbow for national security hawks: In exchange for identifying themselves, a critical element in security, immigrants would get one last chance to remain in the U.S. and help balance the budget. So long as the immigrants stayed out of trouble, the U.S. would provide a long term path to paying taxes and eventual citizenship. The only exception would be those on terrorist watch lists. National security demands the nation identify immigrants with criminal histories, yet neither party is talking about this simple goal.
Even Senator Johnson recognized some of the foolish statements made in the hearing when he called witness Monica Weisberg-Stewart on the carpet for her claim the majority of drugs were coming through the port of entries, to which she replied:
"So we believe that this goods (drugs) are coming through because we have not accurately as a government facilitated the trade and travel and given them (the Border Patrol) the funds necessary in order to be able to cartel the drugs coming through."
We are not sure what facilitating "trade and travel" in relationship to drug trafficking is, or what "cartel the drugs" means. Mrs. Weisberg-Stewart was unhappy about 4 hour waits to cross the border into the second biggest trading partner with the state of Wisconsin, which Senator Johnson represents. That trading partner is... Mexico.