ATF Let Hundreds of U.S. Weapons Fall into Hands of Suspected Mexican Gunrunners…and 2 of these guns were found at Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder site

The lid has blown off the ATF scandal which allowed guns to slip into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels.

Two of the ATF “tracked” AK 47s ended up at the site of Border Patrol Brian Terry’s murder site in Rio Rico, Arizona.

From the Los Angeles Times:

ATF Let Hundreds of U.S. Weapons Fall into Hands of Suspected Mexican Gunrunners
Whistleblower Says Agents Strongly Objected to Risky Strategy

By John Solomon and David Heath and Gordon Witkin | March 03, 2011

A federal operation aimed at tracing weapons to Mexican drug cartels lost track of hundreds, including two guns found at the scene of a Border Patrol agent’s killing in Arizona.

A federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so they could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in December.

The investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, was conducted even though U.S. authorities suspected that some of the weapons might be used in crimes, according to a variety of federal agents who voiced anguished objections to the operation.


CBS News Reports: ATF agent ordered to let guns into Mexico

CBS News had previously reported on the ATF scandal.

And here is a report from the Center for Public Integrity….

ATF Let Hundreds of U.S. Weapons Fall into Hands of Suspected Mexican Gunrunners

Hoping to score a major prosecution of Mexican drug lords, federal prosecutors and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives permitted hundreds of guns to be purchased and retained by suspected straw buyers with the expectation they might cross the border and even be used in crimes while the case was being built, according to documents and interviews.

The decision — part of a Phoenix-based operation code named “Fast and Furious” — was met by strong objections from some front-line agents who feared they were allowing weapons like AK-47s to “walk” into the hands of drug lords and gun runners, internal agency memos show. Indeed, scores of the weapons came back quickly traced to criminal activity….


A Death Raises Questions

In May 2010, a Customs and Border Protection agent confronted an armed band of gangsters along the U.S. side of the border. The suspects fled but some of the guns they left behind were traced back to weapons purchased by one of the suspects targeted in Fast and Furious, Dodson said.

imageU.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry was fatally shot north of the Arizona-Mexico border in December while trying to arrest bandits who target illegal immigrants. Two weapons recovered at the scene were traced to the ATF’s Fast and Furious operation, according to Sen Charles Grassley.Then in December, two weapons recovered at the scene of a murdered Customs and Border Protection agent, Brian Terry, were traced to the ATF operation, according to Sen.Grassley.

“This may be a well-intended policy, but when you have agents on the ground for months questioning what’s going on, and a Border Patrol agent is killed, it’s time to take a step back and check to see if the policy has gone awry,” Grassley told the Center.

The ATF said in a statement today that neither gun recovered at the scene appears to be the weapon that killed Terry, and they may simply have been left behind by the criminals. “At this time, we’re not aware of any forensic evidence that would link these guns to the homicide,” the agency said.


If you can’t trust the government…who do you trust?

Just for the record: You’ve been reading about this scandal in the Tucson Citizen for weeks now, thanks to the efforts of Sipsey Street Irregulars and Dave Codrea  who have done an extraordinary job in digging up the the truth about all this and sharing it with View from Baja Arizona.


ATF Let Hundreds of U.S. Weapons Fall into Hands of Suspected Mexican Gunrunners…and 2 of these guns were found at Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder site

CBS News Reports: ATF agent ordered to let guns into Mexico

CBS News reports on ATF scandal…was Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry murdered by a gun being tracked by ATF?

Inside ATF…an ugly picture …how many dead bodies are out there as a result of Project Gunrunner?

Senator Grassley struggles to get to the bottom of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death and the role of ATF

FBI: Friendly fire ruled out in Tucson border agent’s slaying …so which gun fired the bullet that killed Brian Terry?

Grassley blasts Department of Justice on coverup of guns used in Agent Terry’s murder

Dept. of Justice denies gun claim about Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death

Is there a cover-up on Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder?

Senator Grassley letters accusing BATFE of letting guns be sold that may have been used in the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry

Was Border Patrol agent Brian Terry killed by a gun bought in Phoenix?

And here is ATF’s stuff on Project Gunrunner:

Project Gunrunner

Gun trafficking to Mexico is a nationwide problem with consequences on both sides of the border. In response, ATF implemented Project Gunrunner in 2006 as a comprehensive strategy to reduce firearms and explosives related violent crime associated with Mexican criminal organizations operating in the U.S. and Mexico by preventing these organizations from unlawfully acquiring and trafficking firearms and explosives. Through Project Gunrunner, ATF works in conjunction with its domestic and international law enforcement partners to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the firearms and explosives trafficking infrastructure of criminal organizations operating in Mexico, along the border, and other areas of the U.S.

Project Gunrunner’s objective is to deny Mexican drug cartels the “tools of the trade,” which they employ to murder rival drug traffickers, civilians, as well as political, military, and law enforcement figures in order to strengthen their grip on the lucrative drug and firearms routes into and out of the United States.

The cornerstone of Project Gunrunner is intelligence-led firearms trafficking investigations. This process involves the collection of information from a variety of sources such as Federal Firearms Licensees, ballistic and forensic analysis, and data derived from firearms tracing in addition to traditional intelligence sources and methods. This information is then synthesized, analyzed and appropriate leads are disseminated to ATF field offices for investigative action. The information is also shared with our Federal, State, local and tribal partners, as well as our Mexican law enforcement counterparts, each contributing their unique capabilities and resources, forming a multi-layered, comprehensive approach to disrupting firearms trafficking and drug-related violence.

Project Gunrunner investigations have resulted in the identification and prosecution of firearms trafficking organizations in all parts of the United States, from Minnesota to Florida to all our border states, where ATF criminal intelligence and tracing data has provided valuable leads used in identifying individuals and organizations providing firearms to Mexican criminal enterprises.

In 2009, ATF established several new offices dedicated to Project Gunrunner firearms trafficking investigations in McAllen, Texas, El Centro, California, and Las Cruces, New Mexico, including a satellite office in Roswell, New Mexico, in addition to new Gunrunner teams in Tucson, Arizona and El Paso, Texas. In September 2010, ATF announced plans to expand Project Gunrunner by opening additional Gunrunner offices in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and Brownsville, Texas. Additional expansion plans include the opening of three new offices located in U.S. Consulates in Mexico, as well as adding additional investigative and analytical staff to the ATF Country Office in Mexico City. These steps will allow for more timely and effective collaboration among the various law enforcement partners dedicated to Project Gunrunner.

Today, there are nearly 4,500 active Project Gunrunner investigations throughout the United States. Since its inception in 2006, and through Fiscal Year 2010, ATF’s Project Gunrunner has recommended over 1,100 criminal cases and in excess of 2,500 defendants for prosecution. To date, Project Gunrunner investigations have resulted in the seizure of over 10,000 firearms and nearly one million rounds of ammunition destined for Mexico.

Recovery Act Information

The Southwest Border Initiative — ATF’s Project Gunrunner — $10 million

The Administration’s southwest border initiative will reduce cross border drug and weapons trafficking, and the associated high level of violence occurring on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The primary role of ATF’s Project Gunrunner in support of this initiative is to stem the illegal trafficking of firearms across the border and to reduce the firearms violence occurring on both sides of the border.

$10 million in ARRA funding is hiring 37 ATF employees to open, staff (via new hire and relocation of senior personnel,) equip, and operate new Project Gunrunner criminal enforcement teams in McAllen, TX; El Centro, CA; and Las Cruces, NM (which includes a subordinate satellite office in Roswell, NM.). Additionally, these funds support the assignment of two special agents to each of the U.S. consulates in Juarez and Tijuana, Mexico to provide direct support to Mexican officials on firearms-trafficking-related issues.

By curtailing the availability of firearms to the Mexican drug cartels, ATF will diminish their ability to export drugs to the U.S. In addition, by removing the guns from the cartel’s lethal resources, ATF will directly affect their ability to operate and concurrently suppress the firearms — related violence that occurs on both sides of the southwest border.

Federal Charges Filed Against Eleven Arrested After Discovery and Seizure of Marijuana, Cocaine, Firearms, Grenades and Ammunition

February 25, 2011

(McALLEN, Texas) — Federal charges of drug-trafficking and illegal weapons-exporting crimes have been filed in U.S. District Court in McAllen, Texas, against a total of 11 defendants arrested earlier this week, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.More »

Grand Jury Indicts 17 in Firearms Trafficking Cases

February 17, 2011

PHOENIX — A federal grand jury has unsealed multi-count indictments against 17 defendants in five separate cases of illegally trafficking firearms from the United States to Mexico, United States Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis Burke announced today.More »

Straw Purchase of Guns Leads to Prison Term for U.S. Citizen

January 5, 2011

(McALLEN, Texas) — A United States citizen, who had resided in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison without parole for straw purchasing 13 firearms, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.More »

Border Contraband Seizures Soar as DHS, ATF Hold Summit in San Diego

November 3, 2009

High-level representatives from three of the federal agencies responsible for combating contraband trafficking along the southern border announced Tuesday that seizures involving illegal drugs, weapons and illicit cash borderwide rose significantly in the latter half of fiscal year 2009, an increase they attribute to stepped up enforcement efforts and increased cooperation. More »

Justice Department Announces Success In Battle Against Firearms Trafficking And Recovery Act Funds To Build On Project Gunrunner

October 1, 2009

Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson today announced the results of ATF’s Gun Runner Impact Team (GRIT) initiative, a 120-day deployment of ATF resources to the Houston Field Division to disrupt illegal firearms trafficking by Mexican drug cartels. More »

ATF Announces 7 New Gunrunner Groups and Phoenix Gun Runner Impact Teams’ Successes ATFSeptember 17, 2010

PHOENIX — Deputy Director Kenneth E. Melson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today announced the formation of seven new Project Gunrunner firearms trafficking groups during a news conference in which he and Dennis K. Burke, United States Attorney, District of Arizona, announced the results of ATF’s Gun Runner Impact Team (GRIT) initiative, a nearly 100-day deployment of ATF resources to the Phoenix Field Division to disrupt illegal firearms trafficking by Mexican drug trafficking organizations. More »

New Congressional Funding to Enhance Department of Justice Southwest Border Strategy

August 12, 2010

WASHINGTON – Today’s passage by Congress of the Border Security Appropriations Bill provides $196 million for the Department of Justice to surge federal law enforcement efforts in high crime areas in the Southwest Border region, announced Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler More »

Prepared Remarks of Kenneth E. Melson, Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, at the Violent Crime and Firearms Trafficking Summit, Albuquerque, NM, June 30, 2009

June 30, 2009

I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating: The violent crime we are witnessing on the U.S.–Mexico border is a microcosm of the gun violence plaguing much of America — from urban neighborhoods to communitie’s in our nation’s heartland. More »

Prepared Remarks of H. Marshall Jarrett, Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, at the Violent Crime and Firearms Trafficking Summit, Albuquerque, NM, June 30, 2009

June 30, 2009

It is my pleasure to be here this morning as a part of the United States Attorney community to express our commitment in the battle against violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking. More »

Prepared Remarks of Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, at the Violent Crime and Firearms Trafficking Summit, Albuquerque, NM, June 30, 2009

June 30, 2009

It is an honor to be among so many dedicated law enforcement professionals. Thank you for your warm welcome. You just heard from my partner at ICE John Morton; we’re all in great hands over there. More »

Prepared Remarks of David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General, at the Violent Crime and Firearms Trafficking Summit, Albuquerque, NM, June 30, 2009

June 30, 2009

Let me begin by welcoming all the law enforcement officers, agents and prosecutors. Thank you for taking the time to come from across the country to participate in this conference. More »

ATF, ICE Update Partnership Agreement to Maximize Investigative Efforts

June 30, 2009

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) updated a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today that clearly establishes how the two agencies will work together on investigations of international firearms trafficking and possession of firearms by illegal aliens. More »

ATF, ICE Partnership Factsheet

ATF Announces Gun Runner Impact Teams Rollout

April 28, 2009

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Kenneth Melson and Special Agent in Charge J. Dewey Webb, Houston Field Division, today announced the arrival of its Gun Runner Impact Teams (GRITs) personnel to the Houston Field Division in support of ATF’s Southwest Border strategy, Project Gunrunner. More »

Acting Director Kenneth Melson’s Remarks for Gun Runner Impact Teams Rollout, ATF Houston Field Division, April 28, 2009

April 28, 2009

For more than 30 years, ATF has been at the frontline in the fight against violent crime. Although I am less than three weeks in the job as Acting Director of this proud federal law enforcement agency — as a career federal prosecutor, I have been well aware of its diverse and important mission. More »

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery By Attorney General Eric Holder At The Mexico / United States Arms Trafficking Conference

April 2, 2009

First, let me express my thanks to Attorney General Medina Mora and Secretary of Government Gomez Mont for making this conference possible. This is my first trip to another country as Attorney General. I wanted to come to Mexico to deliver a single message: We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this fight against the narcotics cartels. The United States shares responsibility for this problem and we will take responsibility by joining our Mexican counterparts in every step of this fight. More »

Fact Sheet: Department of Justice Efforts to Combat Mexican Drug Cartels

April 2, 2009

The increased efforts and reallocation of personnel recently announced by the Department of Justice builds on the foundation of expertise and experience gained from ongoing efforts to combat Mexican drug cartels in the United States and to help Mexican law enforcement battle cartels in its own country. More »

ATF Provides Small Arms Trafficking Training for Mexican Officers

December 31, 2008

On Sept. 8–12, 2008, ATF held a small arms trafficking class for about 40 officers from agencies of the Mexican government, including the Procuraduria General de la Republica de Mexico (the PGR, the equivalent of the U.S. Office of the Attorney General), the Secretariat de Seguridad Publica (the federal police force, the uniformed and investigative branch of the PGR), the army and the navy. More »

Formal Declaration Between U.S., Mexico Governors To Use ATF Project Gunrunner, eTrace Investigative Tool

August 15, 2008

The Border Governors Conference announced a significant partnership to stop the flow of illegal guns into Mexico by utilizing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) programs called Project Gunrunner and eTrace. More »

ATF Expands Efforts To Combat Illegal Flow Of Firearms Into Mexico

January 16, 2008

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) plans to add additional staff members, including 35 special agents and 15 industry operations investigators, to the southwest border and deploy eTrace technology in nine U.S. consulates in Mexico in an effort to stem the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico as part of Project Gunrunner, ATF Acting Director Michael J. Sullivan and Director Arthur Doty of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) today announced. More »

Posted in atf, border issues, border patrol, border security, brian terry, department of homeland security, grassley, gun control, guns, project gunrunner | Leave a comment

CBS News Reports: ATF agent ordered to let guns into Mexico

CBS News reported Thursday March 3, 2011:

Agent: I was ordered to let U.S. guns into Mexico

(CBS News) 

WASHINGTON – Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.

He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?

“Yes ma’am,” Dodson told CBS News. “The agency was.”

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson’s job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen….

….On Dec. 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down. Dodson got the bad news from a colleague. 

According to Dodson, “They said, ‘Did you hear about the border patrol agent?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ And they said ‘Well it was one of the Fast and Furious guns.’ There’s not really much you can say after that.”….


Just for the record: You’ve been reading about this scandal in the Tucson Citizen for weeks now, thanks to the efforts of Sipsey Street Irregulars and Dave Codrea  who have done an extraordinary job in digging up the the truth about all this and sharing it with View from Baja Arizona.

ATF Let Hundreds of U.S. Weapons Fall into Hands of Suspected Mexican Gunrunners…and 2 of these guns were found at Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder site

CBS News Reports: ATF agent ordered to let guns into Mexico

CBS News reports on ATF scandal…was Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry murdered by a gun being tracked by ATF?

Inside ATF…an ugly picture …how many dead bodies are out there as a result of Project Gunrunner?

Senator Grassley struggles to get to the bottom of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death and the role of ATF

FBI: Friendly fire ruled out in Tucson border agent’s slaying …so which gun fired the bullet that killed Brian Terry?

Grassley blasts Department of Justice on coverup of guns used in Agent Terry’s murder

Dept. of Justice denies gun claim about Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death

Is there a cover-up on Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder?

Senator Grassley letters accusing BATFE of letting guns be sold that may have been used in the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry

Was Border Patrol agent Brian Terry killed by a gun bought in Phoenix?

Posted in atf, border issues, border security, brian terry, department of homeland security, grassley, gun control, guns, mexican drug cartels, project gunrunner | Leave a comment

Local cops don’t want to be junior Border Patrol agents

The New York Times reports that the Police Executive Research Forum has some real issues with laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 which attempts to turn local law enforcement agencies into immigration law enforcement outfits…junior Border Patrol agents.

Police Chiefs Wary of Immigration Role

As many state legislatures consider laws to expand the role of local police departments in immigration control, police chiefs across the country say they are reluctant to take on these tasks and want clear lines drawn between local crime-fighting and federal immigration enforcement, according to a new report by a police research group.

Dozens of police department commanders who participated in the report recommended that local officers should be explicitly prohibited from arresting people solely because of their immigration status, and should have orders to protect victims and witnesses regardless of that status.

The report, issued on Thursday by the Police Executive Research Forum, cites worries among police chiefs that if they are pulled into immigration enforcement, a job that was limited until recently to federal agents, their ties to immigrant communities will be eroded, with the result that crimes would not be reported and witnesses would be afraid to cooperate in investigations.


The  Police Executive Research Forum issued a report about Police and Immigration and had the following recommendations from a summit conference:

Immigration Summit Participants’ Recommendations

For the Administration and Congress

1. United States borders should be made more secure, not only in terms of preventing illegal immigration, but also in preventing the illegal trafficking of drugs and firearms.

2. Federal agencies and the Congress should consult with state and local police agencies as they craft immigration policies and legislation. The inclusion of local law enforcement in the policy-making process will result in more realistic, practical and informed policies that have the support of local communities.

3. The motivation for involving local police agencies with the federal agencies that are charged with immigration enforcement should be to improve public safety and information-sharing among all law enforcement agencies

4. National comprehensive immigration reform legislation should not be delayed any longer. New legislation should include provisions regarding guest workers, provision of permanent legal status, and employer and family-based visa systems.

5. Improvements should be made to ensure tamper-proof identification and work authorization documents for persons allowed into the country

6. Recognizing the federal government’s recent shift in emphasis regarding the enforcement of illegal immigration law in the employment arena, with less attention to worker violations and greater attention to employers who cultivate illegal workforces, there should be comprehensive plans and setting of priorities for enforcement in this area. Local police should be consulted prior to major enforcement actions in their communities and should be informed about arrests in their communities.

7. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should increase its coordination with and responsiveness to local police agencies. ICE officials should be more visible in communities to explain their policies and actions and should be available when local police request assistance.

8. The authority of local police agencies and their officers to become involved in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, and limitations on that authority, should be clearly defined.

9. Stricter controls should be put into place regarding whose names are entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) on civil immigration detainers. Controls are needed to eliminate the entering of civil detainers into a system intended for criminal warrants, which creates confusion for local police, and may cause them to exceed their authority by arresting a person on a civil detainer

Immigration Summit Participants’ Recommendations

For Local Police

1. Officers should be prohibited from arresting or detaining persons for the
sole purpose of investigating their immigration status.

2. Officers should arrest persons who violate the criminal laws of their
jurisdictions without regard to the immigration status of the alleged
perpetrator or the victim.

3. Local police must uphold the Constitutional and civil rights of persons
regardless of their immigration status.

4. Local police must protect crime victims and witnesses regardless of their
immigration status, and should encourage all victims and witnesses to report
crimes, regardless of their immigration status.

5. Local police should engage immigrant communities in dialogue about
department policies and programs.

6. Local police agencies should educate their communities about their role in
immigration enforcement, especially the legal authorities and responsibilities
of local police and federal law enforcement.

7. Local police should develop comprehensive written policies and procedures
regarding handling of undocumented immigrants.

8. Local police agencies should monitor indicators of racial profiling by
employees, investigate violations, and sanction offenders.

9. Local police agencies should become knowledgeable about programs such as
287(g), Secure Communities, and state or local initiatives to ensure that the
programs meet the agency’s specified goals for participation.


Posted in border issues, border patrol, border security, SB 1070 | Leave a comment

Is Baja Arizona viable as its own state?

Once the laughing stops about the effort to create America’s 51st state out of all or a portion of Arizona that lies south of the Gila River….people start asking….is this really feasible?

Consider that just Pima County alone with a population of 1,020,200 (2009) has more people than Montana, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. With an area of 9,189 square miles, Pima County is bigger than Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

There is legal precedent for the separation of a portion of an existing state from the original state in order to form a new one. In 1820, Maine split off from Massachusetts and was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state. In 1861 West Viriginia split from Viriginia to stay in the Union (sound familiar?).

But in the 21st century this is extremely difficult to accomplish now.

Before the creation of Baja Arizona gets taken seriously a whole lot of questions will need to be answered.

How much tax revenue is generated from Baja Arizona to the state and how much does the state spend back down here?

The guessing is we send more money to Phoenix than we get back…but everyone needs to know for sure if the existing state of Arizona functions down here can be sustained from existing revenues.

Someone ought to come up with a proposed state budget for the new state so we can see if this really could work.

We also need to understand how exepnses are allocated…how much for the prison system versus education so we can identify where our opportunities are located.

We need to understand the revenue share system…how much gas tax money goes to Phoenix and how much is shared back.

We need to understand how money goes to Phoenix for education system support and how much comes back.

We need to see how state support for the U of A would be impacted…would we have more money to go beyond the 10% of the budget support the UA now gets from Arizona?

We need to understand transportaion funding to see if we could maintain Interstates 10 and 19.

What would the state constitution of Baja Arizona look like?

The existing state constitution isn’t half bad. Problem is that constitution has not been followed by the Maricopans.

Just one example…besides a separation of church and state the existing state constitution also has a provision banning state subsidy of corporations.

Isn’t that an interesting idea?

Isn’t that some of what the Tea Party is talking about?

Been in the constitution since 1912.

Article 9 of the Arizona state constitution: 7. Gift or loan of credit; subsidies; stock ownership; joint ownership

Section 7. Neither the state, nor any county, city, town, municipality, or other subdivision of the state shall ever give or loan its credit in the aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any individual, association, or corporation, or become a subscriber to, or a shareholder in, any company or corporation, or become a joint owner with any person, company, or corporation, except as to such ownerships as may accrue to the state by operation or provision of law or as authorized by law solely for investment of the monies in the various funds of the state. 10. Aid of church, private or sectarian school, or public service corporation

Section 10. No tax shall be laid or appropriation of public money made in aid of any church, or private or sectarian school, or any public service corporation.

We could have an internet effort “write your own state constitution” to add some things that would be good to have.

What kind of political structure should the new state have?

Do we want the usual package of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, school superintendent? Would we need a state mine inspector?

Just thinking about those jobs and who currently holds them is an argument for Baja Arizona….

How many state legislative districts and state legislators do we want?

One good thing about the new state is it would open up lots of new jobs for otherwise frustrated poiticians from down here.

But…while folks assume the new state would be heavily Democratic…..I rather doubt that.

My guess is Baja Arizona would be right-of-center….but not as far right as Arizona is now.

Our Republicans tend mostly to be more moderate than the GOPers up north. Remember, we elected Jim Kolbe…an openly gay Republican to Congress.

Our Independents are center-right.

Baja Arizona would probably not be some progressive’s dream.

There is also a strong libertarian streak in the region.

The different probably is we would not be as militantly anti-immigrant and social conservatives wouldn’t have as big a voice down here as they do in Phoenix.

Gay marriage does not look like a big issue down here.

See Three Sonorans’ post.

And how about the replacement state statues?

Until and when the new state legislature adopts a new state code, the existing laws of old Arizona would still apply.

Since a major issue driving the thought of Baja Arizona is all the goofy things the existing state has on its books…what would the people down here want that is different? No SB 1070? Tougher gun control laws?

I would suspect a lot of people would not want to vote to create the new state unless they had a really good idea if the new version was actually better than the old version.

What changes would be made to the state revenue system?

Would the new state have a property tax or not?

What would the new state sales tax system look like?

How about the new state’s icome tax laws?

What would our Department of Environmental Quality look like? What would our Department of Water Resources be all about?

In my ideal world simultaneously with a vote to create the new state, there would be a referendum adopting the new state’s constitution and state law code so everyone would know up front what they were getting themselves into.

Obviously answering all the serious questions that need to be answered is not going to happen over night.

Will Baja Arizona happen?

Right now I think not.

It is a long way from a giggle to actuality here.

Digging into the issues that need to be considered will be helpful in understanding what the problems are…and maybe finding other solutions besides secession.

For example….we really need to pay attention to the redistricting of the state to make sure we are not further marginalized.

Then again…one never knows what else the state legislature might come up with. There remains the potential for Russell Pearce to push this off the cliff and really ignite a widely supported serious movement to create America’s 51st state.

Posted in 51st state, arizona politics, arizona state legislature, baja arizona, free baja arizona | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Baja Arizona…a basic primer on America’s 51st (maybe) state

Baja Arizona started off as a joke in the Frumious Bandersnatch 46 years ago…could this be the first state that started with a joke?

Press Release February 22, 2011:


Start Our State (SOS) has been formally established as a political
committee registered in Pima County. SOS is dedicated to creating
the 51st American state in Southern Arizona, separating us from the
extremists in Phoenix. Our mission is to establish a new state in
Southern Arizona free of the un-American, unconstitutional
machinations of the Phoenix-controlled Arizona legislature and to
restore our region’s credibility as a place welcoming to others, open
to commerce, and friendly to its neighbors. Our first and immediate
goal is to place a referendum before the voters of Pima County on the
2012 ballot on the question of statehood.

We welcome other Arizona counties that wish to join this effort. In the
meantime, we shouldn’t forget that, with a population of 1,020,200
(2009), Pima County has more people than Montana, Delaware,
North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. With
an area of 9,189 square miles, Pima County is bigger than Vermont,
New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode
Island. There is legal precedent for the separation of a portion of an
existing state from the original state in order to form a new one. In
1820, Maine split off from Massachusetts and was admitted to the
Union as the 23rd state.

SOS Co-chairs: Paul Eckerstrom, Peter Hormel
SOS Treasurer: David Euchner

See  Facebook page: Save our state

Resulting news:

Arizona Capitol Times: Baja Arizona? Annoyed with Legislature, group wants Pima County to form new state

 Fox 11 Tucson: Baja Arizona Movement Gaining Support
Poll finds secession sentiment strong in Baja Arizona

Channel 9 reports 51st state Baja Arizona idea gets strong reactions from sheriffs

Montini on Arizona Republic  Farce as reality: Baja Arizona the 51st state?

Secession from Arizona pushed…Amendment would have allowed Pima County to form its own state

Could Baja Arizona be 51st state in US?  Arizona Daily Star February 24, 2011

Arizona Republic: Southern Arizona residents want to create new state: Baja Arizona

KTAR (Phx tv station) Baja Arizona? — Supporters insist the time has come

KPHO Phoenix Southern Arizona Man Fights To Form New State

KMSB Fox 11Tucson tv station Tucson group wants to secede from Arizona

KOLD tv Tucson  Baja Arizona: America’s 51st state?

KGUN 9 Tucson Splitting AZ: Support grows for 51st state

New York Times February 24, 2011 Arizona Lawmakers Push New Round of Immigration Restrictions

….Opponents said the changes were a drastic rewriting of the core values of the country. In Tucson, a community group was so enraged by what it called the extremist nature of the proposals from Phoenix that it proposed severing the state in two, creating what some call Baja Arizona.


Blog comments:

 From Forbes: “Baja Arizona might not become a new state, but it certainly shows a more moderate state of mind.”

To Secede or Not To Secede — That Is the Arizona Question

 Is Baja Arizona really much better? A look at the numbers


Slate: Arizonans Want To Secede From Arizona 

A group of Arizona residents are getting serious about creating a breakaway state—but it’s not the U.S. they want to escape from, it’s Arizona. The Arizona Star reports that a committee of Democrats in the southern part of the state says the conservatives who run things in Phoenix don’t represent them or their values. “Every bill we’ve heard about here is either anti-abortion laws or anti-Mexican laws,” Start Our State‘s Paul Eckerstrom said. “These are not laws that are geared toward solving the real problems that we have,” problems he thinks southern Arizonans ought to take a crack at solving themselves. His group is working to get secession on the ballot in 2012, and he insists the effort is “not a ploy and not merely a political statement.” If the secessionists succeed, a section of Pima County (with an area of 9,186 square miles and population of more than 1 million) would become Baja Arizona, the nation’s 51st state. But the Associated Press warns that there are “daunting hurdles”: “they must first get on the ballot, then get approval from the Legislature or from state voters to allow the exodus. A new state constitution would have to be approved, plus they’d have to get the OK from Congress and the president.”

NPR Blog: AZ Lawmaker Says State’s So Embarrassing, Her County May Secede

by Frank James

I pass this one along for your amusement.

After the Republican-controlled Arizona Senate passed a bill to let the state nullify any federal laws it didn’t agree with (I know, I know. The senators did this despite the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy clause”) a Democratic lawmaker said her county might need to secede for the sake of its dignity.

Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, chose not to try to block SB 1433 which has strong Republican support, including that of Senate President Russell Pearce. Instead, she sought to amend it to say that the moment this law takes effect, the Pima County Board of Supervisors “may act to have the county secede from the jurisdiction of this state.”

Aboud said Pima County residents really do want to remain part of Arizona.

“But we don’t want to be part of this state that continues to embarrass Arizona,” she said. “The point is, our business community is hurting because of the reactions brought upon by this body.”

From the East Valley Tribune:

Tom Prezelski: I was talking about Baja Arizona…


Why Baja Arizona …?

see editorial in the New York Times : Angry Arizona, Again

Arizona Lawmakers Push New Round of Immigration Restrictions

Arizona bills a test of federal government authority

Arizona bill would make Colt revolver state’s official firearm

Outfit your own private army in Arizona

State to feds …you are criminals if you try and enforce federal laws in Arizona

Brewer signs corporate tax give away bill

The state is going broke so what do you do? Cut taxes

Arizona to countersue feds over immigration issues

Is Arizona trying to secede from the United States?

New Arizona legislation aims to loosen gun laws…what? our gun laws are not liberal enough?

Arizona legislators determined to keep Arizona as the center of anti-immigrant efforts

With a climate of hate and easy access to guns for crazy people who else is going to die in Arizona?

Birthright citizenship bill unveiled by Arizona lawmakers — 2011′s version of SB 1070

And then there was last year’s SB 1070 debacle…


Some far right folks are claiming the current Baja Arizona movement is a precursor to the area joining Mexico…part of their “Aztlan” fear.   And they think we’re crazy….

Others think Baja Arizona is a scheme to leave the United States. Actually it is Arizona that is trying to secede from the US.

Others think this is silly…..well it is sort of….but so is what’s going on in Phoenix.

As Forbes blogger Osha Gray Davidson observed:

Group members insist they’re serious about their desire to secede, but know the odds are against them.

Even though, Baja Arizona may succeed in another way. The secessionist movement sends a powerful message to prospective businesses that the region is different from the butt of late-night talk shows to the north. Baja Arizona might not become a state, but it certainly shows a more moderate state of mind.

From: Nicholas Ilka who appears to be a spokesperson for SOS:

Let be be unmistakably clear – Nothing could be farther from the truth! My reasons for supporting this movement can be summed up as follows – If we allow Maricopa county to have its way the result will an Arizona that is no longer a part of the U.S., has its only education system in the private prison industry, and prayer as the only form of healthcare. I oppose these things as part of my patriotic duty to this country. We want to be a full and cooperative partner with our fellow states and the federal government.

One thing that will come as no surprise to most of you is that Sheriff Joe Arpaio has denounced the independence movement as “stupid.” Personally I thought he would have jumped at the chance to get rid of us. On a brighter note we received the unofficial endorsement of Sheriff Tony Estrada from Santa Cruz county!

“I think it’s a tremendous idea. It’s about time we kind of separate ourselves from the great state of Maricopa. We’ve been ignored, we’ve been abused, we’ve been pushed around, we’ve been kicked around long enough.”

Looks like Sheriff Estrada knows exactly how we feel. In the same article Pinal Co. Board of Supervisors Chairman Pete Rios has this to say,

“They’re the tail that wags the dog. The rest of us, regardless of whether we join teams together, we cannot come up with enough votes to defeat anything that Maricopa County legislators want,”

Both quotes and Sheriff Arpaio’s thoughts can be found here

I am pleased to announce that the official website for Start Our State is under way and in the hands of some very capable volunteers. As soon as we are up you all will be the first to know.

The official email address for Start Our State is but you can respond to me as well and I will do my best to get you the information you need.

Thanks again and have great day,

Nicholas J. Ilka
Proud local business owner and supporter of Start Our State.


Comment: The whole reason new political jurisdictions…nations and states… are created  as well as revolutions started… is to make sure folks have a say in their governments.

If the  original American Revolution was triggered by the colonial people feeling they didn’t have a say in the government from London….the movement to create Baja Arizona is another in a long history of people wanting not to have their lives run by people with very different values and agendas who live somehere else.

What is Pima County except a colony of Maricopa, where Maricopan priorities and values are being imposed on people down south simply because there are more of them than us?

I hope the SOS leaders are serious…now lets see if Santa Cruz will join the effort….doubt if Cochise or Yuma would be interested….

Previous post on Baja Arizona

See “51st state” in Wikipedia which has interesting info on how to actually create a new state.


UPDATE: Bumper sticker graphics (print your own)…


History of Free Baja Arizona movement: Baja Arizona first started to be used in 1965 in the Frumious Bandersnatch, a yellow underground satirical newspaper I published…the name to connote a different place from Arizona.

In the 1980’s bumper stickers were printed up (see graphics above) when Ev Mecham was running the state into the ground.

The movement to “free Baja Arizona” started as a joke and a protest to the nuttiness coming out of Maricopa County. The problem is over the decades that nuttiness has grown even crazier, and now has become vicious in its hostility to immigrants. seems..wants to secede from the United States. The idea behind Baja Arizona is the folks down here want to stay a part of the USA.

If nothing else, the statement for a new state tells the rest of America we might be a little crazy ourselves, but we’re not the kind of people who want to jail every illegal immigrant, we find government can be useful, and we are not for  arming every mental patient with an automatic weapon.

The Free Baja Arizona page from the Frumious Bandersnatch:


An enormous mistake was made on December 30, 1853 when the Gadsden Treaty was signed between the United States and Mexico. The northern part of the Mexican state of Sonora, an area located south of the Gila River, was purchased by the United States, and tacked into what became the State of Arizona.The people of the Gadsden Purchase have increasingly chafed under the domination of an enormous population in an around Phoenix (Maricopa County). In order to end the domination of Phoenix, the people of the Gadsden Purchase are seeking statehood. Proclaiming themselves as Baja Arizona, a “state of mind” is acknowledged to exist.

The primary differences between Baja Arizona and the remainder of Arizona are of attitude and tolerance. The people of Baja Arizona are known throughout the southwest for their enlightened view of the world. This is obviously not the case with the passaged of SB 1070 making it illegal to be an illegal in Arizona.

In Baja Arizona people fight for civil rights. In Maricopa County they are jailing immigrants.

In Baja Arizona a major issue is environmental quality. In Maricopa the major concerns are how to harrass Mexicans, and how to gut the budgets of the state university system so we don’t have too many smart people to disagree with Russell Pearce and his buddies in the State Legislature.

In Baja Arizona folks care about health. Up north they have cut off funds for organ transplants…the ultimate “death panel”.

In Baja Arizona we get taxed by Arizona…and little of that money flows back south to us.

If Baja Arizona Became a State imagine…..

The State Motto would be “mas cerveza”.

The State Song would be “Get back” by the Beatles.

The State Animal would be Wiley Coyote.

The State Minstrel is Linda Ronstadt.

Cigarettes would be taxed at the rate of $4.00 per pack to support the new state’s free health care system.

Marijuana might be made legal and taxed to run the state…giving new meaning to “high” taxes. 

There would be no speed limit in Baja Arizona since no one obeys the ones posted now.

Tucson would likely be the capital, creating an economic boom as hordes of lobyyists descended on the town. That might even justify a new hotel in downtown Tucson.

Small government advocates in Baja Arizona suggest the state capitol be in an RV, which would move around from town to town every 6 weeks.

Alta Arizona would no longer have a border with Mexico. Joe Arpaio would have to get an honest job.

Baja Arizona would probably send two Democrats to the US Senate.


The current Arizona state legislature would have to call a special election, and the people of Alta Arizona and Baja Arizona would have to vote in favor of splitting the state. Then Congress would have to approve.

The chances of the people in Maricopa County voting to get rid of the concentration of Democrats to the south, and the people of Baja Arizona voting to sever their ties to the right-wingers to the north are excellent.

The chances in Congress are not so good.

First, there are several proto-states waiting to be created–Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, and Northern California. Baja Arizona is maybe 54th. The other three would probably send Democrats to Congress, as would Baja Arizona. There is no way the Republicans in the US House and Senate would create 4 new Democrat delegations in Congress, just like the South blocked the admission of free states before the Civil War. Like the pre-Civil War period, the only way Baja Arizona gets to be a state is if new Republican dominated states are also admitted. Texas could split into 5 states. Disneyworld could become a state… how do you think we got a North Dakota and a South Dakota, a Virginia and a West Virginia, and a North and South Carolina?

Other statehood movements:


Puerto Rico

Northern Virginia

Long Island

New York City

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula


Washington DC

In addition to nascent statehood movements inside the US, one finds suggestions to add Canada, Sonora and Cuba as new US states.

Posted in 51st state, arizona politics, baja arizona, free baja arizona, national politics, SB 1070, tucson politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Public employee unions…holding the public hostage

The fight between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker  who is using that state’s budget crisis to try and limit the right of public employees to organize and collectively bargain raises lots of important issues.

Unions have always been a thorn in the side of Republicans.

Over the last few decades the power of unions representing workers in the private sector has been pretty well destroyed by a combination of moving factory work outside the country and union-busting efforts such as occurred in Arizona when the mining industry flattened their unions.

Note that Arizona is a “right to work” state meaning one does not have to belong to a union.

The main growth in the union movement has been in the public sector.

I can speak from first hand experience about public employee unions.

My first encounter was with police and fire employee unions at the city of Tucson where the unions actually went on strike leaving the city government seriously thinking about calling in the National Guard to protect the safety of Tucson residents. The city did not cave in to the unions.

The second encounter involved the Teamsters who represented Tucson’s bus drivers. The bus system was being run by a private contract manager, and the unions wanted to deal directly with the city government. The city refused triggering a bus strike. The Teamsters tried this same scheme last year against Tucson. Meanwhile thousands of people could not get to work who depended on the bus system.

Whether or not public employees have the right to collectively bargain, I do not believe they should have the right to strike.

We can live without the products produced in the private sector when there is a labor dispute between workers and company owners. But we can’t function without police and fire protection. Strikes by public employees which threaten the very health, safety and welfare of the public turn the citizens of a community into hostages.

My third encounter with a public employee union was with a union that had organized my public works department employees….water and sewer workers, garbage men and street construction and maintenance folks.

Some very interesting issues in the conflict between government management and the employees.

First, it seems to always be the goal of a public employee union to get an automatic dues checkoff so union dues are deducted from employee pay checks to paid to the union. Unions don’t like the idea of having their members send them a dues check every month. I don’t think it is the government’s job to collect dues for unions.

Second, in the typical union organizing campaign, to succeed they have to create a conflict so they can justify why they should represent the workers. Typically the union organizer is a dissatisfied worker who sees the union as a way to get even. I don’t think the process of organizing a union should be allowed during working hours on government property.

Third, unions want everyone in the work force to have to belong to the union…called a “closed shop”. That is not allowed in Arizona. The argument from the union side is that since the workers benefit from their collective bargaining effort, all workers must belong to the union and pay dues, or not be allowed the job. Wisconsin might consider putting a “right to work” law on its ballot to see if every worker would be forced to belong to a union to hold a job.

Fourth, during contract negotiations there is a lot of push from union reps attempting to substitute their judgment for management’s. For example, there is a lot of overtime work in a public works or police department or a fire department. I had to deal with a union demand that overtime work be assigned strictly on a seniority basis…not on the basis of which worker had the skills necessary for the work at hand. It comes down to who is responsible for the services provided to the public….the union or government managers. Under no circumstances can a union tell a government how to provide the public services that must be provided.

When you look at all the different governmental functions whose workers are unionized … teachers…fire fighters, police, public works… you begin to see the problems of conflict between government managers and the workers.

Who is running Tucson Unified School District? The school board or the union?

A lot of the budget fight between public employee unions and state and local governments centers on pay and benefit packages.

From my perspective most government workers (except federal) are underpaid for the value of the services they provide…especially police, fire, nurses and teachers.

The problem for government is that to increase pay means increasing taxes…something at least in this Tea Party era is not possible.

Unions use their political clout to influence elections…typically trying to get “their” people elected to city councils and school boards. That does not change the basic revenue problem.  It would be very helpful if all the political effort expended by unions on electing their buddies to office would be spent convincing our taxpayers that their workers should get paid more.

The pension and benefit packages unions have gotten from government are a serious problem. Local and state budgets are not sustainable these days and the benefit packages are pushing government towards bankruptcy.

How did all these generous benefit packages get put into place in the frst instance….unions were successful in getting their buddies elected so the deals could be made.

A related problem is the pension and benefit packages in the private sector are meager by comparison to what public employees have. Maybe the answer is for the private sector to provide more benefits and better pensions….but the tide has going gone out on that one. Like it or not the generous benefit and pension packages for public employees only fuels jealousy from private sector employees which works against union goals.

I think Walker is making a big mistake by trying to deprive Wisconin’s public employees their right to organize and collectively bargain based on his deficit problem.

But that does not mean the public employee union sector are the good guys here.

Let them organize. But no mandatory dues checkoff. No right to strike.  No closed shop deals. No trying to jeopardize public safety by intruding into management responsibilities.

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New York Times editorial: Angry Arizona, Again

Some folks think the movement to Free Baja Arizona is silly.

But on a national scale, the antics of the Arizona state legislature are doing catastrophic damage to the state’s image. And it is hurting our state’s economy.

It doesn’t help Arizona when the New York Times (I know…a bunch of you think it is Pravda) blasts Arizona. But think about where the people who make major economic decisions live…and what they’re reading Sunday morning….

Editorial: Angry Arizona, Again
Published: February 26, 2011

Many states are doing urgent business: jobs, the economy, broken budgets. Arizona’s legislators are trying to give government new powers to strip away individual rights, to extend immigration enforcement into schools, public housing, hospitals and doctor’s offices.


Posted in arizona politics, arizona state legislature, immigration law reform | Leave a comment