Border Patrol raises concerns

The Border Patrol's presence here is now a fact of life, and Lagunans have a right to be concerned.

The Border Patrol is here for a good reason: Coyotes have been landing boats on Southern California beaches for about a year. Aliso Beach seems to be the favorite destination, despite its heavy surf, riptides and other dangerous conditions.

The human smugglers now have to go farther afield to cross U.S. borders with their human cargo because of the diligent efforts of U.S. authorities to patrol and secure the southern border.

One incident here in December involved at least a dozen people who apparently donned life vests to make it onto shore at Aliso in a boat that broke up in the heavy surf. Police found women's cosmetics and hair combs, and Mexican candy wrappers, among other items. Women and children were probably on that boat, along with men.

Who knows if they all survived?

These surreptitious border-crossers were met by someone who had dry clothing and led them through local neighborhoods to a waiting van, where they were whisked away to parts unknown. This was a well-organized, and no doubt, well-financed organization.

Who are these people? Most are people willing to risk death to enter this country to make a living. They may have relatives here; many of them are from our closest foreign neighbor, Mexico.

The Border Patrol agents are doing their job, and certainly our borders need to be secured from those who should not be here or intend harm. But in pursuing this end, they are also detaining people who are here legally, but who appear suspicious for some reason, possibly because of their skin color or their facial characteristics.

The Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, separate agencies with a similar mission, are bound by federal policy not to conduct "racial profiling," but we're not sure that is always the case.

In one instance we know of, an employee of ours, a U.S. citizen of Mexican descent, was stopped in Laguna Beach and ordered to show his driver's license. If he were not detained because of his appearance, then why was he stopped by Border Patrol? This is a question any U.S. citizen has a right to know, and if the answer is not forthcoming, then we are going down a very dark road.

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