U.S. customs legislation needs a fair hearing

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has “a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. It also has a responsibility for securing the border and facilitating lawful international trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations, including immigration and drug laws.”

It is difficult, to say the least, to square that mission with handcuffing a New Mexico woman that a checkpoint drug dog alerted to, forcing her to have vaginal and rectal exams, a bowel movement in front of someone as well as a CT scan, and then billing her $5,000 for the six-hour ordeal — especially because no drugs were found and agents did not have a warrant.

It certainly gives a new definition to “medical tourism.”

Reps. Steve Pearce, R-N.M. and Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, are crafting bipartisan legislation to balance the big buildup in recent years of border law enforcement and restore accountability to the system. Their ideas include an accountability commission, an ombudsman to field citizen concerns and complaints and additional training for agents.

Pearce says the legislation is needed because “Our government is too powerful. It’s too uncaring, and we’re going to introduce caring back.”

O’Rourke says it would establish “some authority to get accountability and oversight to subpoena data that is currently missing.”

At minimum that clarity should be part of the protections along the border. It is important the congressmen’s proposal gets a fair hearing and serious consideration.

— Albuquerque Journal

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