In addition to Chief Deane’s meetings with the Mexican Consulate last week, the Prince William County Police Department has disclosed that Chief Deane conducted private meetings with the “General Counsel El Salvadore” in his office on March 6th, 2008. This somewhat cryptic reference could mean a couple of different things, but most likely it refers to a discussion between Chief Deane and the senior diplomat who oversees all of the Consulates of El Salvador in the United States, who is referred to as a “Consul General.” This is a far cry from the “public outreach” effort that the Board of County Supervisors directed Chief Deane to undertake as part of the Rule of Law Resolution. Meetings with county residents makes sense as part of this effort, but private meetings with high-level agents of foreign governments is hardly consistent with this directive.
Mexico has ten percent of their population residing within the United States, and foreign remittances from Mexico constitute the second-largest source of foreign income for that nation. Remittances play an even more significant role in El Salvador, whose primary export is their own citizens, and over one-third of them reside in the United States. About 17% of the Gross Domestic Product of El Salvador is made up of foreign remittances, which is 133% of all export revenues and nearly as large a figure as that government’s budget (source). The State Department reported that in 2006 22.3% of El Salvadorans received remittances from the United States which accounted for an estimated $3.3 billion. If there was ever a foreign government completely invested in perpetuating illegal immigration in the United States, it would be El Salvador. Their economy is dependent on illegal aliens unlawfully residing in the United States.
While Chief Deane’s motives here are unclear, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out the motives of the Consul General of El Salvador (if that is who is referenced in this document) are likely to be. If diplomatic officials can compromise the enforcement of the Rule of Law Resolution in any way, it would definitely be beneficial to the national interests of El Salvador which are what a Consul General promotes as his primary responsibility. When we have a local public official with no diplomatic training or resources engaging in undisclosed private discussions with senior-level agents of a foreign government, especially when those agents represent governments that have clearly diverging interests with our local laws and policies, it’s not only the right thing to do to demand answers, but it’s the only responsible thing to do.
So far Chief Deane hasn’t told us what he discussed with the Government of El Salvador, and so far hasn’t fulfilled requests from members of the Board of County Supervisors to disclose this information to them. We don’t know whether Chief Deane spoke with the State Department prior to this meeting, or notified the County Executive about this meeting. Chief Deane should be more forthcoming about the nature of these meetings, because to learn a few scant details about them after-the-fact definitely raises an appearance of impropriety.
I cannot fathom how some Supervisors are so willing to write Deane a blank check for his actions without any understanding of what has happened. They at least should get a full accounting of what Chief Deane has done before they give his actions a “vote of confidence” and pass on the opportunity here to establish clear guidance for county employees in regards to contacts with foreign officials that would eliminate the possibility of scandals like this happening in the future. Oversight only happens when public officials actually exercise their power and fulfill their responsibility to perform it.
UPDATE: I’m hearing that the U.S. State Department has contacted county officials today in order to find out what’s been going on. Now that the federal government has taken an interest in what has transpired, I imagine answers are going to be coming pretty quickly, although the citizens may not be able to hear what those answers actually were if the information is deemed to relate to matters of national security.
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