During last night's GOP presidential debate in California, Republican hopeful Gov. Rick Perry made a point of harping about America's dangerous borders. "For the President of the United States to go to El Paso Texas and say the border is safer than its ever been, either he has some of the poorest intelligence in the history of the country, or he was an abject liar to the American people," Perry said during the debate. "It is not safe on that border."
But while the FBI's own statistics show that violence along the border has indeed declined, border patrol agents themselves say that violence has dropped so significantly that they're often left with nothing to go.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent stationed at Washington state's remote Olympic Peninsula says the Border Patrol is spending nearly $6 million to renovate a Port Angeles building that's "not needed, there's nothing for them to do up here."
The U.S. Border Patrol is spending nearly $6 million to renovate a Port Angeles building that could house up to 50 of its agents.
But some locals and a border patrol agent say the city, inhabited by about 20,000 and a three-hour car and ferry ride away from the U.S.-Canadian land border, doesn't need any more agents. Prior to 9/11 the port only housed four agents.
"There's nothing to do," Border Patrol agent Christian Sanchez said during a July event in Washington on government whistle-blowers. "There are no gangs or cross-border activity. I haven't seen it," Sanchez said in video obtained by CNN.
"The taxpayers are paying us all this extra money to do nothing on this peninsula, where it's a water-based border," Sanchez said during the panel discussion. "It's a burden on the taxpayers right now especially with the economy, with Medicare being cut, with the foreclosures."
"It's not needed, there's nothing for them to do up here," Lois Danks, a Port Angeles organizer of Stop the Checkpoints, told CNN.
She says border agents "drive around and hassle people without any reasonable suspicion of anything except for possibly the color of their skin."
"They park across the street from Hispanic grocery stores and taco stands and watch who comes and goes," according to Danks.
It's not clear how many incidents are handled specifically by Port Angeles agents, since the agency does not release statistics for individual stations, according to Border Patrol spokesman Rhett Bowlden.