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Jackboots on the ground

13 February 2008

Robert Halpern, publisher of the under-appreciated (and under-staffed and under funded!) weekly Big Bend Sentinel in Marfa, Texas, reported in the 7 February edition (not yet on line) that:


Longtime Redford resident Jesus Jose Valenzuela was expected to be released Wednesday after a five-day stay in jail following his arrest on misdemeanor charges of allegedly intimidating or interfering with a Border Patrol agent.


According to a criminal complaint filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations special agent William S. Vanderland, an agent on duty in Redford last Thursday received a radio transmission of a possible illegal entry from Mexico…. The agent observed a man, a woman and a child walking from the foot crossing area of the river to a truck parked at Valenzuela’s home, which is near the Polvo crossing.

After watching for a few minutes, the agent pulled his vehicle into Valenzuela’s driveway. Valenzuela was standing on the front porch of his home. Valenzuela reported told the agent he was on private property and that Valenzuela was a U.S. citizen.


According to the complaint, “Valenzuela displayed signs of agitation and pointed to the agent. Valenzuela said to the agent, ‘You are on my property, this is my trailer, and if you don’t want to get hurt you need to leave right now.’”


…An arrest warrant was obtained, and Valenzuela was taken into custody on Friday…. the federal magistrate’s court in Alpine was closed. Valenzuela made his initial court apppearance on Monday at which time prosecutors, based on the “nature of the offense”… asked the court that Valenzuela be denied bond pending a review of the case…


Marfa Border Patrol Sector public information officer Bill Brooks said agents have the legal authority to enter private property to conduct an immigration inspection within close proximity to the border. The search for the three individuals was suspended after the incident with Valenzuela and the agent occurred.



This is one of those stories I’d love to follow up, but right now can’t. I work the railroad’s schedule – though paid considerably less than any railroader – and can’t plan my schedule or make appointments since I never know when I’ll be working, or how many hours I’ll be available. I took the job because I needed to eat (duh!) and – while I was working on a book – the irregular hours weren’t a handicap to getting my “real work” done. And, I’ll be leaving Texas in a little over a month, so am in no position to give this story the attention it deserves. Besides, I’ve cut my phone to all but local service (just for my internet connection) and can’t even telephone Redford right now.



A couple of things for any of you enterprising reporters (Brenda Norrell, Bill Conroy, Jack McNamara, Jay Johnson-Castro and anyone else) that may want to look at this.


Article I, Sections 9, 17 (and possibly 24) of the Texas Constitution may have been violated by the Border Patrol. Texas landowners are a prickly bunch… and even though we usually think of immigration as a “left-wing” issue, “right-of center, traditionalist” Texans have been bothered by the Federal Government’s cavalier attitude towards private property along the border.


Living in Redford, Texas, American citizen Jesus Jose Valenzuela has been fortunate in one respect. Unlike the late Ezekiel Hernandez, he’s still alive. It takes balls to take on armed federal bureaucrats down on the border.


Which leads me to the question I’d ask Bill Brooks (432-729-5200), if I wasn’t planning to get out of town in a month, and didn’t have to drive through rural far-west Texas day and night – and I thought for a minute Bill would give more than his usual non-answer answer: how proximate to the border is “close proximity”, and where exactly is the line at which the Green Shirts stop being an occupation force, and become just another set of federal employees?



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