John McKay Says U.S. Attorney Could Put a Stop to Border Patrol's Expansionism

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After a month of intense media scrutiny on the Border Patrol's expansionist and legally questionable activities, U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks' office says it will meet with the agency's regional chief later this month. How pointed the Congressional staffers will be in their discussions isn't clear. Dicks' spokesperson George Behan stresses that the meeting, which will not include the congressman, is part of an ongoing "dialogue" and is "simply information gathering." It may be, moreover, that another public official could be more crucial in curbing the Border Patrol's overzealousness.

That official is U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Jenny Durkan. So suggests one of her predecessors: John McKay.

Upon reading SW's recent cover story on the Border Patrol, which documents the agency's shift toward the interior of the country in places like Forks, McKay has this to say: "It never would have happened when I was U.S. attorney. Never."

The onetime Bush appointee says it's obvious that the agency, which became flush after 9/11, has "way too much manpower" and therefore feels the need "to develop stats." He questions its way of doing so by moving away from the border and picking up longtime residents.

"What training do [agents] have to confront individuals and engage in conversation to determine whether [there is] reasonable suspicion?" he asks. In fact, interviews conducted by SW suggest that agents are randomly stopping Hispanics without reasonable suspicion, and a Border Patrol whistleblower who later came forward on the Olympic Peninsula gave some insight as to why: boredom.

If the U.S. attorney weighed in, the Border Patrol would be hard-pressed to ignore her, according to McKay. "She's the chief federal law-enforcement officer in this district," he says.

Durkan has not yet responded to a request for comment, although spokesperson Emily Langlie says the U.S. attorney is reviewing SW's story.

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