How to Fix a Broken Border

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Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard talks about his plan for securing the Arizona-Mexico border that’s being released as a three-part series by ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

Ted Simons: "How To Fix a Broken Border" is a three-part series originally published by the immigration policy center. It was written by former Arizona attorney general Terry Goddard, who updated the series for ASU's Morrison institute of public policy. Here to talk about the report is former state attorney general Terry Goddard. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Terry Goddard: Pleasure to be here.

Ted Simons: Let's set some parameters. Is the border broken?

Terry Goddard: Everybody seems to say so. I think we can start with the premise that there are serious problems at the border. What is a broken border? Nobody has defined the term. So it's impossible to say. What constitutes success on the boarder? Nobody has defined that either. Once again it's impossible to say when you're winning or losing. As a law enforcement officer, I spent eight years as Arizona's attorney general, sort of trying to do something about the crime problems on the border. And I think that's what most people are worried about. And found it very frustrating there was a lot of talk, a lot of bombbast and all of the basic common sense law enforcement issues that I was trained to observe, especially against organized crime, were not being followed. So you really wonder, you've got no definition of what success is, and there doesn't seem to be the very basic crime fighting programs being put in place.

Ted Simons: There are three recommendations, but before we do, that the idea of building a wall at the border. The idea of allowing local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law, and state law. The idea that no reform should be considered until the border is quote unquote secure. Do these ideas make sense?

Terry Goddard: Well, they make sense to the advocates of a particular point of view. Do they make sense in terms of securing the border? No. If our objective, and I start from this perspective. There's a serious crime problem in Mexico. There's a serious crime problem in the United States. It relates to drugs. I believe we have -- we should have a fundamental organizing objective, which is to go after that problem. And that would have a tremendous impact on the criminal aspects of the border. If you really are against immigration, you talk about that you don't get the immigration reform until you fix the border. But you never bother to say what fixing the border or securing the border means. If you want to build a wall, all I can think about that is it's a massive public works project. Because that's 12th century technology, applied to a 22nd century opponent. The cartels are incredibly sophisticated. Frankly, the border itself, the physical border in most of the crimes that we're talking about is not actually the issue, because you have a cyberspace border which moves money, and that's the one that we need to protect.

Ted Simons: And those are the areas you concentrate O let's get to the first recommendation. Hit the cartel, the smuggling cartels, drug cartels in general, hit them where they live. What does that mean?

Terry Goddard: Mexico. We've almost tripled, certainly doubled the size of the border patrol. We have gone head over heels, this administration and the prior administration, in terms of putting more manpower on a defensive posture on the border. But usual never going to win a game just playing defense. And it seems to me that what has to be done, if we're going to be serious about going after a criminal threat, and the justice department almost eight years ago said that the drug cartels, mostly organized in Mexico, are the most serious organized crime threat in the world. OK. That means their organization, they're a leadership -- their leadership is across the border. What we have done in effect by not partnering with Mexican law enforcement, to the degree I think we could and should, is to give them a free pass. They have security in Mexico. The ironic part is many put their families in the United States and protect them from the violence in Mexico and we don't do anything about that either. Somebody is missing the big picture.

Ted Simons: So dismantle the criminal organizations, try to get them at their source, where they live. How do you get them where it hurts?

Terry Goddard: That's their pocketbook. And this is not rocket science. This is not anything new in criminology. Organized crime lives through the pocketbook. People are not serving the cartels in Mexico because they love the work. They're not religious fanatics. They're not interested in terror. They're interested in making money. And as long as they can make money, they are going to be doing the most effective job they possibly can to continue that profit center. We go after one of their particular areas, a particular type of drug, they'll switch to another one. We go after one part of the border where they're coming across, they'll go somewhere else. They are very flexible. And I think that's what the U.S. response has not been flexible, because we're playing red rover. We're joining arms on the border and instead of going into an offensive effort with intelligence, and wire taps, and a variety of law enforcement technologies that follow the criminals wherever they are, and that means we've got to cooperate with Mexico and they with us, I don't believe we're ever going to win this battle.

Ted Simons: Which brings us to your third recommendation, follow the money. Give us an example. Explain that for us.

Terry Goddard: Well, this is a border that's awash with cash. Just taking the issue I pursued and we used our authority in Arizona to go after the wire grams. The money grams that paid for human smuggling. When we started this effort, almost $600 million was being wired into Arizona. When we finished, almost nothing, $3 million. I can't say the whole 600 was criminal proceeds, the fact it's not there anymore means there's a good chance most of it was. So that's how they paid for most of the human smuggling in the United States. But there's probably, and the estimates are way all over the place, at least $20 billion in drug proceeds goes back into Mexico. It could be as high as $50 billion every year. As long as that's happening, they've got the money to buy the most advanced technology, they've got the money to hire the best troops, they've got the money to do just about anything they want to try to avoid our border enforcement.

Ted Simons: How do you keep that from happening?

Terry Goddard: You start with the department of treasury. We've got three -- two department agencies, three involved with the border, in my opinion, intensely and daily. Justice, with the DEA and homeland security, with ICE and border patrol, are doing a tough job. And they're doing it I think as best they can. Nothing is perfect, but they are really doing the defensive effort. But ultimately they've got to stop the money. It's not in their jurisdiction to do that. It's department of treasury. And we know every day in fact "The New York Times" this weekend talked about, well, they're looking at money laundering bite major banks. That seems like a delayed reaction. The major banks literally have been moving billions of dollars across the border without following the regulations they're supposed to. And that profits the cartels.

Ted Simons: Which brings me to the last question, hit the cartel where it hurts, disrupt smuggling and follow the money. Can you do all of those things if financial institutions in particular aren't along for the ride?

Terry Goddard: Well, I think you have to do all of them. Bottom line, you look at the sophisticated organization and do what you did to the Mafia. Go after the top players and use any legal excuse or possibility to do that. The second item is the money. And as long as the money is flowing with such abundance, everything else is going to be far more difficult. And so I'm -- I believe the number one thing we failed to do to secure our border in Arizona and throughout the southwestern United States is to do an adequate job of A, enforcing the laws we have now on the books against money laundering, because it's happening, it's still happening in the wire transfer area, it's happening in legitimate -- the quasi legitimate trade in the border. And what I know and what is an abomination is that you've got one item that's called stored value instruments, they look like credit cards, but they have a little chip, and it means you can put money in and take money out, like a little bank account. And if you or I go across the border, we've got to declare everything over $10,000. But if one much those things in my wallet is a stored value instrument and it's got a million dollars on it, I don't have -- under the rules I don't have to say anything about that. Congress has known about it for years. Gabby Giffords, one of our Congress representatives, tried to get it fixed. Unfortunately she was shot and is not pushing that bill anymore. And nobody picked it up. So there's some huge loopholes and they haven't been closed.

Ted Simons: We have to stop it there. It's good to see you again.

Terry Goddard: Pleasure to be here.

Terry Goddard:Former Arizona Attorney General;

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