by Kevin R. Johnson originally posted at ImmigrationProf Blog. The L.A. Times reports for ominous news for those interested in improvement in U.S./Mexico border enforcement policies in the Obama Administration:
A former U.S. attorney who oversaw a crackdown on illegal immigration on the California-Mexico border a decade ago will be appointed the Southwest border czar by the Obama administration, according to a Department of Homeland Security official. Alan Bersin, who served in a similar post during the Clinton administration in the 1990s, will be charged with controlling illegal immigration and drug violence amid Mexico’s ongoing war against organized crime, the official said.
Bersin signals an equation of undocumented immigration with crime, a trademark of the Clinton administration and its pursuit of tough immigration laws, strict enforcement policies, and thousands of deaths through border enforcement. As the Associated Press reports,
From 1993 to 1998, Bersin was the federal prosecutor who led the government’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants at the California-Mexico border. Bersin and [Janet] Napolitano [DHS Secretary] were both U.S. attorneys during the Clinton administration. During his final three years, Bersin doubled as the U.S. attorney’s general Southwest border representative, or "border czar." Under Bersin’s watch, the U.S. government rolled out Operation Gatekeeper, a huge increase in border enforcement in the San Diego area that pushed migrants to cross illegally from Mexico in the remote mountains and deserts of Arizona.
Bersin extols the virtues of Operation Gatekeeper in a law review article, ‘Threshold Order: Bilateral Law Enforcement and Regional Public Safety on the U.S./Mexico Border,’ 35 San Diego L. Rev. 715 (1998), without mentioning that it has resulted in thousands of deaths of migrants from Mexico. Rumor has it that the President and Secretary DHS Secretary Napolitano, who apparently claims to know all the "answers" on immigration, are not on the same page on immigration, immigration enforcement, and immigration reform. The appointment of Alan Bersin as "Southwest border czar," an ironic title given what is going on at the border, would suggest that Napolitano wants to take us back to the Clinton years on immigration.?? Latinos, immigrant rights advocates, and others stay tuned! Kevin R. Johnson is Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair at the University of California at Davis.