NFL fumbles decision on Border Patrol ad - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

NFL fumbles decision on Border Patrol ad

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Posted: Friday, February 16, 2007 5:33 am | Updated: 7:02 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

While America is sharply divided over how to shape U.S. immigration policies, the vast majority of us instinctively know that no one should sneak into the country illegally and the U.S. Border Patrol should play a vital role in securing our borders while protecting us from foreign terrorists and criminals.

Everyone agrees on these points except, apparently, the National Football League, which rejected a Border Patrol recruitment advertisement for this month’s official Super Bowl program. The Border Patrol is making an aggressive effort to fill thousands of new jobs funded by Congress as part of U.S. Homeland Security’s selfimposed mandate to gain true control of the Southwest border by 2010. The campaign includes a full-color print ad with the headline “Don’t just walk the line. Protect it.”

In a refreshing bit of honesty, the ad explains what Border Patrol agents actually do, such as “prevent and detect the entry of terrorists and their weapons,” “apprehend violators of our immigration laws” and “stopping drug smuggling along our borders.”

Who could possibly object to taking money for such an ad while helping a federal law enforcement agency find desperately needed employees? Not the National Basketball Association, which is carrying the ad for its upcoming All-Star game, nor the NCAA, which will have the ad in programs for the Final Four tournament.

But NFL officials couldn’t stomach repeated references in the ad to “the border.” As ABC News reporter Justin Rood first noted online Tuesday, the NFL made a rather wild leap in logic that those at the Super Bowl would assume a connection to various debates about immigration issues, and our biggest annual sporting event somehow would be tainted by controversy.

“The game was in Miami, where [immigration] is a sensitive political issue … [it] made us a little bit uncomfortable,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ABC News.

Aiello said the NFL would have accepted a more generic ad, but how does the federal government recruit for a job when it might be offensive to mention even the name of the target agency, the “U.S. Border Patrol”?

This knee-jerk reaction was an insult to the intelligence of sincere activists on every side of the immigration debate, and a slap to the face of the hardworking men and women who defend our country while working on the border.

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