Citing national security, high American unemployment, budget deficits, and safety concerns, critics lambasted the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security for its recent decision to purchase over $7 million of U.S. Border Patrol uniforms that are made in Mexico. All across the political spectrum, members of the media, Congress, and law-enforcement advocates say the goods should be produced in America. However, despite previous uproars in recent years over similar contracts, the administration claims that it must accept the Mexican-made uniforms under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Among the biggest concerns surrounding the controversial deal are the national security implications. Opponents point out that uniforms made in Mexico could be stolen, re-routed, or copied, allowing criminals to masquerade as Border Patrol agents while unlawfully crossing the border. Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council (LEOAC) President Andy Ramirez, a longtime supporter of Border Patrol agents, cited national security and numerous other issues as his organization launched a campaign urging the public to call Congress in an effort to stop the contract.
"If uniforms are made, as well as insignia, and borrowed or stolen, then individuals can slip across the border, compromising the safety of our agents, other law enforcement officers, and civilians,” Ramirez told The New American. “Keep in mind that the patrol uses the badge patches on uniforms, so they can replicate the look of agents who can claim to be cutting sign [tracking], or off-duty and heading home. Pretty easy since there are so many agents and plenty of detailers. It would be impossible to know and recognize everyone. Hence, a national security issue and safety issue."
Ramirez, who has testified before Congress on numerous occasions, added, "We know there are no quality controls when it comes to the [Mexican factories] maquiladoras, unlike our side of the border.” According to Ramirez’ sources in the Border Patrol, Mexican-made uniforms purchased in the past have been “substandard”: They tear easily, were not sized properly, and overall, were a “disaster,” Ramirez said, emphasizing that he told many members of Congress about the complaints in 2004 and 2005 when the issue first surfaced. "The $30 million was clearly an example of poorly spent taxpayer dollars," Ramirez said about the previous round of purchases from Mexico. “The Defense Department policy does not allow for the official uniforms to be constructed outside CONUS [the continental United States], unlike DHS. Not even a policy on that one."
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