DHS Acts to Limit Border Patrol Cooperation with Local Law Enforcement Agencies

According to a December 13 Associated Press report, the Department of Homeland Security has issued orders to Border Patrol officers to cease responding to local law enforcement requests to assist in translating for persons who do not speak English and are detained by the local authorities. The new order instructs the Border Patrol to direct local officials to other sources of interpretation such as commercial or non-profit organizations. This action by DHS follows a request to DHS from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project that asserted that the Border Patrol sometimes used their role as translators as an opportunity to question aliens about their immigration status and detain those found to be illegally in the country.

This action by DHS is another nail in the coffin of effective enforcement of the nation’s immigration law. At present, the Border Patrol represents the only enforcement effort against newly arrived illegal aliens, which is one of the stated priorities of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of DHS. Traditionally, the Border Patrol has worked beneficially with local law enforcement authorities. This new order downgrades that cooperation. It also denies the Border Patrol the opportunity to apprehend illegal aliens whom it might not encounter otherwise. And, finally, directing the Border Patrol to advocate the use of translators who are likely to be sympathetic towards illegal aliens amounts to an effort to protect the aliens against detention and possible deportation.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    It is very sad that we have a Government that will not allow this Country to enforce it’s laws. Well, who voted these A.H.s back into Office? I hope you are the ones that feel the consequences the most.

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  3. avatar

    The Washington Times wrote on this policy on 12/17 (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/17/border-patrol-stops-translating-spanish-for-other-/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS) and included the following commentary from Border Patrol officers:

    “One veteran Border Patrol agent called Mr. Aguilar’s new policy “absurd,” saying it would “diminish our ability to serve the communities we patrol” and that “cooperation among agencies undoubtedly will be reduced.”

    “The new policy is a dramatic departure from the Border Patrol’s historic support of other law enforcement agencies,” said another agent. “The Border Patrol receives literally hundreds of requests each month for Spanish language translation assistance from law enforcement agencies.”

    “Imagine the frustration of a local sheriff who needs translation assistance in the middle of the night on a weekend,” one senior agent said. “The sheriff knows we have units close by who are not tied up, but we simply refuse to respond. What a devastating impact this policy will have at every level.”

    • avatar

      When considering the actions of the Department of Homeland Security under the current administration, I find myself questioning just what they are trying to secure. (Other than their political jobs of course.) They seem to make every effort to pick and choose the laws they will enforce, and if it doesn’t fit within their political agenda they simply refuse to enforce the laws of the land as enacted by Congress. If they continue on the present course, we may as well do away with the border patrol all together and allow anyone who wishes to cross. At least we could save he funds being spent on men and women who are not ALLOWED to do the jobs they have been hired to do.

    • avatar

      I guess the sheriff should simply lock that likely illegal up until such time as an interpreter may be found. The taxpayers in that state must then pay for that service. Maybe that will make them demand E-Verity.