Letters to the Editor

From the issue of October 25, 2001

INS: Incompetent Nonsense Service
And I should know because I worked there: I am a former immigration inspector at Miami International Airport and am writing in response to Bob Norman's article "Admitting Terror"(October 18). I agree with Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector José Touron's assessment of the persistent problems that plague the INS. It is an agency doomed to fail. The organizational structure is rife with nepotism, corruption, and incompetence. INS gave up safeguarding America's borders a long time ago. The institutional paralysis that plagues the service may be partly responsible for the September 11 tragedy.

INS rank and file are hard-working, conscientious people who care about their jobs and their country. Unfortunately INS management has sold them out for 30 pieces of silver. I still have many friends who work as inspectors at MIA and at other ports of entry around the nation. They will continue to complete their tasks diligently, and perhaps now the INS will allow them to actually protect our borders. It is lamentable that in America people had to die tragically for this to happen.

Marco Fernandez
Laredo, Texas

INS: Incredible Nitwit Service
Me too: I was an immigration-detention enforcement officer assigned to Miami International Airport from 1996 through 1998. I was also a shop steward with the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1453, and I represented Mr. José Touron on one occasion in 1998. He was the only immigration inspector to challenge his immediate supervisors, who had ordered him to pass into this country people he had questioned and detained during inspections.

It is shocking that Mr. Touron was doing his job, but the immigration service administrators at MIA ordered him not to. What is also shocking is that now, after Americans are dead, many inspectors still have not come forward.

Honor José Touron for doing what was right. He can sleep at night knowing he fought to do his official duties. As for the rest of those inspectors who knew what they did or did not do, shame on them. Monday-morning quarterbacks can't change the fact that Americans died because of those people who did not have the guts to challenge what was wrong. José Touron has guts, integrity, loyalty, professionalism, and he told the truth.

Antonio Aquino
Oviedo, Florida

INS: Insultingly Neutralized Service
Speaking of Bill Clinton: Bob Norman's article "Admitting Terror" states that "for much of the past decade, [the U.S.] emphasized customer service and facilitation of air travel over enforcement." Much of the last decade? Was that not William Jefferson Clinton's watch? What is widely believed but not said is that the Clinton administration allowed thousands of illegal immigrants into the United States. The theory was that these people would become Democratic voters once their status became legal. For votes Clinton allowed terrorists to enter the country.

Let's look at the scorecard here. Under the Clinton-Gore watch, we had Travelgate; Chinagate; Whitewatergate; Interngate; the largest attempted power grab in U.S. history (Hillary and her gang of 300 vs. medicine); the Beirut bombing (240-plus dead); the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole (nineteen-plus dead); the barracks bombing in Saudi Arabia (nineteen-plus dead); the embassy bombings in Africa (250-plus dead); the WTC bombing by virtue of the nonexistent immigration enforcement (5000-plus dead); and the pardoning of seventeen terrorists (who committed 160 bombings in three cities, resulting in six-plus deaths, one of which was a police officer), a cocaine kingpin, a traitor, a used-car swindler, a smuggler, and a money launderer.

The list goes on. Is there still any doubt that the Clinton-Gore administration was themost corrupt in U.S. history? An administration, I might add, that has the blood of thousands on its hands.

Andrew H. Williams
Miami

The Long Arm of the Law
It doesn't have quite the reach it should, says the boss: I read with interest Jim DeFede's article "The Alonso Shell Game" (October 11). Mr. DeFede continues to be one of the most dedicated investigative reporters in South Florida.

While not being able to comment directly on the contents of the story, I did want to make a point regarding Mr. DeFede's observation that "there is little authorities can do" because of existing loopholes in current law. New Timesreaders will be interested to know that our state statutes include 533 pages on insurance, 56 pages on alcoholic beverages, 47 pages on vacation time-shares, and 12 pages on fertilizer. But chapter 839, "Offenses by Public Officers and Employees," runs less than two pages.

For the past several years, my office and a number of state legislators, including Rep. Randy Ball (R-Brevard), have been lobbying for a comprehensive legislative plan to add teeth to weak corruption laws. These efforts have not yet been approved by the legislature. Several years ago Representative Ball and my office began to work together on a seven-point corruption plan. This year Representative Ball has once again filed the Citizens Rights to Honest Government Act (HB 147). Our office will be supporting this legislation and doing everything we can to have it approved in Tallahassee.

In the meantime my office, along with local law enforcement, will continue to use existing laws aggressively and creatively to remove from office any public official who is involved in criminal activity. Those of us who work in law enforcement share the public's frustration. But the public should not wait for some of our leadership ills to be resolved through investigations and prosecutions. There are a number of issues our office has reviewed that are not illegal yet are examples of ineffective and wasteful public service. The only way to correct some of those inefficiencies is by having a strong public presence in our political process, by voicing our displeasure to our elected officials, and through the ballot box.

Finally we urge the public to contact their state representatives and encourage them to support the Citizens Rights to Honest Government Act.

Katherine Fernandez Rundle
State Attorney
Miami-Dade County

Forget Reach, How About Grasp?
Speaking of Katherine Fernandez Rundle: Jim DeFede's "The Alonso Shell Game" is interesting and, I suspect, correct. Unfortunately, like all New Times's other articles about public corruption, no justice will come from this information. Witness DeFede's recounting how former Miami City Commissioner Victor De Yurre allegedly diverted campaign funds to pay his IRS taxes.

Katherine Fernandez Rundle may start one of her famous investigations but there it will remain until it's forgotten. That's the Miami way! We'd like to be considered a world-class city, but in reality we're just another Third World banana republic. Such a shame.

Dick Doster
Miami

What's Truth Got to Do with It?
Art is a mirror, not a lens: Truth? What is this idea of Alfredo Triff's that art should be a reflection of truth, enlightening and thought-provoking ("Let Us Only Entertain You," September 27)? Is not art just a reflection of society, a sort of visual cultural history? Perhaps as "conduits" of our time, contemporary artists are merely demonstrating that the lease on the "artist as the collective-consciousness genius bringing truth to the darkened minds of the masses" idea is up, done, finito.

This notion of the artist as enlightened genius comes from the Renaissance. Surrealists reinforced the idea, along with the Abstract Expressionists, in attempting to reach mankind's collective (and pure) consciousness. But today it's like an artist friend of mine said: "Art isn't moral or anything else. Art is just art."

Maybe the question isn't what art should do but rather how is art reflecting a society gone numb. In compulsively pursuing pop culture and commercialism, contemporary society simply strives to fill the void with pleasure via entertainment. The real question isn't what art should or shouldn't do but what is the void driving endless streams of noisy entertainment.

Mertz Kan
Miami

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