Border Patrol Axes Today's El Paso 'Crowd Control' 'Exercise,' Nothing To See Here, Move Along
US Customs and Border Protection has decided maybe election day isn't such a great day to practice Border Patrol "crowd control" techniques in the west Texas town of El Paso after all. Or specifically, after Texas and national media brought attention to the exercise with a unified, incredulous, "WHAT EVEN THE FUCK?"
Mind you, it was a routine exercise, the sort of thing law enforcement agencies do routinely, although maybe what's not routine is a very public show of force in a border town ON ELECTION DAY, at the end of a campaign in which Donald Trump has been hyping fears of a "caravan" of asylum-seekers who won't arrive for weeks. Oh, yeah, and in the home town of Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic nominee for US Senate. Other than THAT, it was a perfectly routine training operation.
The only advance notice of the exercise was a press release sent out Monday, because apparently this thing was as hastily tossed together as every other decision on border policy from this administration:
"The El Paso Sector U. S. Border Patrol will be conducting a crowd control exercise at the railroad crossing west of the Paso Del Norte Port of Entry on Tuesday, November 6, 2018," the agency said in a news release. "The exercise will include participants and assets from the United States Border Patrol."
"Our preparations are ongoing. There is no link to the election date," said Customs and Border Protection spokesman Roger Maier. He provided a link to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan's October 29 statement about the agency's preparations for the migrant caravan from Central America.
See? Total coincidence, and nothing to worry about; don't go having a crazy liberal version of the panic over Jade Helm 15, because this is perfectly routine preparation for, uh, the migrant caravan the "president" and Fox News have been losing their shit over and claiming is full of violent thugs. The mere coincidence of scheduling the exercise for voting day, a half-mile from a polling place, is nothing to worry about, you sillies. Oh, hmm, and who would just happen to be witnessing this display of "crowd control"?
The exercise was to take place next to the Chihuahuita neighborhood, a cluster of about one hundred or so homes along the U.S.-Mexico border that is almost exclusively Hispanic. The exercise was planned to have occurred within half a mile from at least one designated polling station.
That may seem awfully suspicious, but c'mon, it's not like CPB would hold such an exercise at a country club. Beto O'Rourke certainly didn't care for the timing, that's for sure:
"No walls, no CBP exercises (are) going to keep us from honoring our laws, our commitments. Why this is happening now, why the president is stirring these issues up at this moment with 24 hours before we decide this election, I'll leave that to you to conclude," he said.
Other members of Congress from the area condemned what looked like election-day fuckery at a time when record electoral turnout was expected.
"It's appalling that they would do something like that," said U.S. Representative Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, another border community. "This is more of a campaign dog-and-pony show coming from the administration that is trying to incite its base." [...]
U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, vice-chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said: "I'm at a loss to understand why they would do that on Election Day. Without hearing the justification for it, I don't know why you would do it on Election Day anywhere in Texas. It seems very strange."
U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, another border community, said: "At best, it's a bad decision to have this at that particular area on Election Day. Couldn't they wait until the day after the election? I'm not going to question the motives, but I am going to question the timing."
The ACLU, which is just never satisfied with a little routine intimidation of voters, also made a fuss. Executive director for the Texas ACLU Terri Burke said the whole damn thing stank like armadillo roadkill that's been marinating in the sun:
"The location, next to a totally Hispanic neighborhood, is suspicious. The timing of this—Election Day—is suspicious. This administration, and by extension the [Governor Greg] Abbott administration, have done quite enough to intimidate voters without staging military rehearsals on the day our nation exercises our most important democratic obligation: voting. Instead of practicing to handle nonexistent crowds, the Border Patrol could practice something useful and timely: how to properly interview and process refugee asylum seekers," Burke said.
At least ONE Texas official was cool with the whole idea: Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, the Republican who oversees Texas elections. He had a chat with CBP's director of field operations this morning and wanted everyone to know there'd be no worries about voting, except maybe from panicky liberals, duh:
"After speaking with Hector Mancha I'm convinced the exercises aren't getting in the way of Texans going to the polls," Pablos, who has lived in El Paso, told Texas Monthly. Moments later, the agency announced the postponement of the exercise.
Thank heaven for life's little ironies, huh?
Actually, Yr Wonkette is willing to believe, just maybe this actually was more a matter of purely local butt-headed CBP stupidity, including a complete failure to consider the optics of a bunch of Border Patrol officers herding imaginary migrants into detention. The only reason we suspect that's the case is that somebody on the ground in Texas appears to have called it off at the last minute. A local official just might be subject to shame, after all.
Hell, if this had been a higher level order to pull off a vote-suppressing show of force, sent down from, say, Stephen Miller, there's no way in hell it would have been cancelled. Bastards would have been all over Fox News explaining it was a national security priority and anyone who spoke against it was an enemy of America.
And now, if the House goes Democratic, there's one more thing to investigate: Where the hell did this cockamamie idea originate?
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