Holbrook, Ames

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Holbrook, Ames

PERSONAL:

Served in a combat unit during the First Gulf War.

CAREER:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, New Orleans, deportation officer, 1998-2002. Military service: U.S. Army, special weapons, Italy; Third Infantry Division, Germany.

WRITINGS:

The Deporter: One Agent's Struggle against the U.S. Government's Refusal to Expel Criminal Aliens, Sentinel (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Ames Holbrook served in the U.S. Army in Italy as part of a special weapons team and in Germany with the Third Infantry Division. He resigned from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in frustration after working as a deportation officer for the department in New Orleans from 1998 to 2002.

His book The Deporter: One Agent's Struggle against the U.S. Government's Refusal to Expel Criminal Aliens is a memoir of that difficult time. As a federal agent, Holbrook's job was to capture and deport aliens—both legal and illegal—who have committed serious crimes, including rape, murder, kidnapping, and child molestation. Apprehending them was difficult enough, as Holbrook explains, but an equally tough opponent was government bureaucracy in the U.S. and abroad.

According to Holbrook, some governments take criminals back without complaint. Others, notably Cuba, Cambodia, Laos, and governments with whom the U.S. has trade agreements, refuse to allow citizens who have committed crimes abroad to return home. If the foreign governments refuse to issue travel documents allowing the return, the U.S. government releases these criminals back into American communities, a practice that enrages Holbrook.

Holbrook makes it clear that he does not oppose immigration or immigrants, only those who are criminals. Disgusted by the government's tacit disinterest in doing anything to rid American society of their presence, he points out how some illegal aliens work the system by claiming to be from countries that do not allow deportees to be returned. Since they have no documents, the government assumes they are telling the truth about their nationality and does nothing about them.

In his efforts to surmount the red tape of deportation, Holbrook admits to making false claims against some criminal aliens, charging them with crimes much lighter than those they actually committed but which will allow for their deportation. Although he had some success with this practice, he claims the deceptions led to the breakup of his engagement, a loss of self-esteem, and eventually to his leaving the job.

Critics were horrified and fascinated in equal parts. Michael Cutler, writing in the New York Post, found The Deporter "as hair-raising as it is distressing." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly declared it an "engrossing but disturbing book," and a critic for Kirkus Reviews praised its "hardboiled, high-energy, no-nonsense prose … a penetrating, street-level view of an infinitely depressing and growing problem." Cutler recommended it as "story for anyone who is concerned about how the failure to secure this country's borders imperils our safety and our nation's security."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of The Deporter: One Agent's Struggle against the U.S. Government's Refusal to Expel Criminal Aliens.

Publishers Weekly, July 10, 2006, "Deporter on Tour," p. 16; August 6, 2007, review of The Deporter, p. 179.

ONLINE

Beak Speaks,http://thebeakspeaks.blogspot.com/ (December 30, 2007), review of The Deporter.

FrontPageMagazine.com,http://frontpagemag.com/ (October 9, 2007), Jamie Glazov, "The Deporter."

New York Post,http://www.nypost.com/ (October 14, 2007), Michael W. Cutler, "Give Me Your Murderers, Your Huddled Cons … In Our Flawed System, Even Criminals Can't Be Sent Home."

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Holbrook, Ames

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