According to The Bangor Daily News the Rockland, Maine, City Council recently rejected a $7,000 grant from the U.S. Border Patrol. The money, which would have been used to fund community-policing initiatives, was refused due to what Councilor Valli Geiger characterized as concerns over the Border Patrol agents being “racist and unethical.”
You may be asking yourself, “So what? A tiny town in rural Maine turned down a tiny bit of federal money. Who cares?” But, aside from the libelous aspersions cast on the Border Patrol by town officials, the move is also shocking because Rockland has been a crossroads for drug smugglers and human traffickers since the 1980s.
Rockland is about 150 miles south of the Canadian border, along the main route of travel, US-1. In addition, the town sits on a sheltered inlet known as Penobscot Bay. That makes it a prime location for covertly bringing both illicit drugs and people into the United States.
The attractiveness is further enhanced by the fact that the area has a steady supply of skilled commercial mariners who, after an unprofitable season, can sometimes be seduced into smuggling by the promise of “easy” cash. In 1981, a U.S. Coast Guard patrol, operating not far from Rockland, seized a sailboat carrying five tons of marijuana that belonged to a smuggling ring associated with Colombian drug producers.
And, according to the Maine Human Trafficking Needs Assessment, Maine’s proximity to the Canadian border, its large population of migrant workers and its “geographical characteristics” have “allowed human trafficking to occur largely ‘under the radar.’” In short, it is easy for traffickers to sneak victims over the border and extremely tough for law enforcement authorities to catch them in a mostly rural state that covers 35 million square miles.
The refused grant was offered as part of “Operation Stone Garden,” a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program intended to increase federal, state and local cooperation in securing “travel corridors in states bordering Mexico and Canada, as well as states and territories with international water borders.” Had it been accepted, it would have provided money to put more police officers on Rockland’s streets during each shift. In return, the federal government simply expects local police departments to share observations and information that are relevant to federal investigations – something that most police departments do anyway.
But, apparently, the Rockland City Council is more interested in virtue signaling on behalf of foreign nationals than it is in taking a bite out of prostitution and the drug trade, which should come as no surprise. In 2017, the town passed a “Diversity Resolution,” which, in essence, declared it to be a sanctuary city. And, in so doing, Rockland joined other municipalities, like Cambridge, Massachusetts, that seem to believe they are entitled to behave like medieval city-states, conducting an independent foreign policy.
American-style constitutional federalism requires some space between the state and federal spheres of responsibility. However, when state and local authorities repudiate the federal government’s authority to protect our borders and maintain our national sovereignty, they depart from the practices of federalism and veer toward open rebellion.