In My Opinion…

January 1, 2007

Border Insecurity

Filed under: Politics — Thomas Hagen @ 3:33 am

The United States of America is being invaded by millions of people who enter the country illegally. The question of how to handle this national security crisis is on the minds of many Americans. Several civil liberty groups and labor unions are demanding amnesty and full citizenship for illegal immigrants. Some supporters of illegal immigration have gone so far as to suggest that the borders be opened to allow all people in any time they want. Various bills on how to address the issue are being furiously debated in Congress. However, the true answer to the problems of illegal immigration and the threat to America’s sovereignty is simply enforcing border security.

First, the invasion has numbers on its side. While there is no way of accurately assessing the illegal alien population in the U.S., the March 2005 Current Population Survey accounted for approximately 9.8 million illegal immigrants in their study. However, the survey does not account for those illegal immigrants that did not take part. Likewise, the Current Population Survey estimates that about one half the 5.2 million foreign born in the United States between 2000 and 2005 were due to the illegal population, and that one half of all new arrivals are illegal immigrants (Camarota).

Second, the invasion has its allies. Labor organizations, such as the AFL-CIO, have called for amnesty for all illegal immigrants, as well as eliminating sanctions on employers who hire them. The United States Chamber of Commerce has also voiced support for amnesty (Reyes). In fact, even the government of Mexico has gone so far as to support those who demand amnesty for illegal immigrants (Cevallos). But the Mexican government does not stop there. Mexican President Vicente Fox, and the Mexican Foreign Ministry’s institutional liaison for northern border affairs, Arturo Gonzalez Cruz, have spoken out in favor of opening the U.S.-Mexican border to everyone. Mr. Fox has long been a proponent of open borders throughout North America (Seper). Yet, Mr. Fox is not interested in opening the southern border of Mexico to immigrants from Central America and South America (Grayson). This is absolute hypocracy.

America needs to defend itself from this invasion. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security was established as a response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. As a result, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was formed under the DHS. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for securing our nation’s borders by uniting customs, immigration and naturalization, and agricultural inspection officials under the same agency. Technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, are intended to aid in the task of patrolling the borders (National Border Patrol Strategy).

Sadly, there are not enough border patrol agents to do the job properly. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner has stated that without the use of new technologies, up to 50,000 Border Patrol agents would be required to secure the United States’s borders. As of May 2005, there were a mere 10,800 Border Patrol agents charged with securing our northern and southern borders. In a token attempt to increase the number of agents, the Bush administration’s 2006 fiscal budget called for an increase of a meager 210 agents (Strohm). To further complicate the personnel problem, the Border Patrol’s sole unmanned aerial vehicle was destroyed in a 2006 crash (Border Patrol’s… …vehicle crashes).

Unfortunately, the U.S. military is unable to offer much assistance. After the American Civil War, federal troops were used to restore order, and enforce reconstruction laws in the south. The Army was occasionally stationed near polling places and political events, which brought great concern to many members of Congress. They feared that the military was drifting away from its intended role of national defense. As a result, the Posse Comitatus Act was passed to exclude the military from the role of civilian law enforcement (Trebilcock).

At this time, Congress is debating numerous bills relating to immigration and border security. On the subject of Points of Entry, Congress is interested in expanding the biometric system used to screen prospective entrants. Congress is also debating the success of the “one face at the border” initiative, which combines customs and immigration inspections. Concerning areas between Points of Entry, Congress is debating whether or not the Department of Homeland Security has a practical border security strategy. Congress also wants to know if the United States Border Patrol has enough resources to achieve and maintain operational control of our borders. Other legislation being debated include the expansion of fences along the U.S.-Mexican border, military patrols and surveillance along the border, “catch and release” practices (Nunez-Neto,) and the Posse Comitatus Act (Pentagon exploring…border security).

None of the proposed answers to the question of illegal immigration can hope to be effective until America has a firm grasp of its borders. The Customs and Border Patrol agency is operating with nearly one-fifth of its intended capacity of agents (Strohm). Technologies that have been promised have been acquired in inadequate quantities (Border Patrol’s… …vehicle crashes). Federal troops are limited by law in the types of functions they may perform in defending the America’s borders (Trebilcock). Until we bring a change to these issues, America’s border security, national security, and basic sovereignty will be at risk.

Works Cited

“Border Patrol’s unmanned aerial vehicle crashes.” KVOA.com. 25 April 2006. <http://www.kvoa.com/Global/story.asp?S=4816527&nav=menu216_2&gt;.

Camarota, Steven A. “Immigrants at Mid-Decade: A Snapshot of America’s Foreign-Born Population in 2005.” Center for Immigration Studies. December 2005. <http://www.cis.org/articles/2005/back1405.html&gt;.

Cevallos, Diego. “INT’L LABOUR DAY: Mexico Backs ‘Day Without Immigrants’.” Inter Press Service News Agency. 28 April 2006. <http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33059&gt;.

Grayson, George W. “Mexico’s Forgotten Southern Border: Does Mexico practice at home what it preaches abroad?” Center for Immigration Studies. July 2002. <http://www.cis.org/articles/2002/back702.html&gt;.

“National Border Patrol Strategy.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection. September 2004. <http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/border_security/border_patrol/national_bp_ strategy.ctt/national_bp_strategy.pdf>.

Nunez-Neto, Blas and Beaver, Cheryl. “Immigration Related Border Security Legislation in the 109th Congress.” U.S. Department of State. 3 April 2006. <http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/64414.pdf&gt;.

“Pentagon exploring ways to use military for border security.” AZcentral.com. 12 May 2006. <http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0512BorderDefense12-ON.html&gt;.

Reyes, Teofilo. “AFL-CIO, in Dramatic Turnaround, Endorses Amnesty for Undocumented Immigrants.” Labor Notes. <http://www.labornotes.org/pdf/magazine/0400_reyes.pdf&gt;.

Seper, Jerry. “Mexican Official Seeks Open Border.” The Washington Times. <http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040927-012753-6418r.htm&gt;.

Strohm, Chris. “Border Patrol seeks more personnel, might enlist citizen patrols.” GovEx.com. 13 May 2005. <http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0505/051305c1.htm&gt;.

Trebilcock, Craig T. “The Myth of Posse Comitatus.” Homeland Security Institute. October 2000 <http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/articles/Trebilcock.htm&gt;.

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