GOP drafts legislative assault on illegal immigrationby Hugh Holub on Apr. 04, 2011, under border issues, border patrol, drug smuggling, immigration law reform, politics
From the Los Angeles Times April 4, 2011:
Reporting from Washington—Congressional Republicans are drafting legislation that would require the federal government to develop a plan to add more fencing, sensors, agents and even drones to stop every illegal entry into the United States.
The legislative effort offers another example of how a more conservative Congress has steered the immigration debate away from the Obama administration’s two-pronged push for reforms and improved border security, and toward strict enforcement of immigration laws.
The Border Patrol reported to the Government Accountability Office that by October 2010 it had control of 873 miles of the nearly 2,000 miles of the Southwest border, or 44%. If you want to see an example of the other 56% come down to the border between Nogales and Sasabe. don’t, however do this at night because you will be risking your life.
US Customs and Border Protection has developed a strategic plan for securing the border by 2014.
But there are some basic problems with focusing solely on more Border Patrol agents and drones and stuff. More of the same isn’t going to work when it comes to securing the border because a whole bunch of the money being spent on “securing” the border isn’t actually showing up at the border.
It would be very instructive for Congress to see the basic daily deployment of the Border Patrol in the region and see how many agents are at the line, how many are within 10 miles of the line, and so forth.
Based solely on physical observation, my guess is about half of the Border Patrol agents are working more than 20 miles from the border. And there are still serious gaps in the coverage in areas like west of Nogales where smugglers cross without much risk of being caught.
Arguably the border would be a lot more secure right now if more of the existing Border Patrol resources were concentrated right at the border instead of patrolling around miles and miles away from the border in their “layered defense” strategy. If all the Border Patrol were concentrated within 10 miles of the line there would very likely be a really meaningful reduction in illegal entry and drug smuggling.
Rather than throwing even more money at the Border Patrol, there needs to be a really serious review of the Border Patrol’s strategies and tactics.
The plan to secure the border by 2014 needs some serious scrutiny.
While a lot of us support completing the fence, how does one explain Department of Homeland Security taking $50 million of border security funds and giving the money to US Fish and Wildlife to study bats among other things. One thought building the border fence was exempt from being held hostage by environmental interests.
There also needs to be a serious look into conflicts between the Border Patrol and its mission and other federal land managers who put their agendas ahead of national security.
Why does the fence stop at National Forest boundaries as it does east of Nogales?
How can a wildlife refuge manager require the Border Patrol to ask his permnission before BP agents can pursue suspected illegal alien criminals on wildlife refuge land?
How come wilderness areas are being proposed or created on the border to facilitate wildlife movement…which just makes it even harder to build roads at the border so it can be secured?
And while drones are cool, the billion or so DHS wasted on the Boeing Secure Border Initiative really ought to cause conservatives to want to get some of that money back. DHS was sold a pig in a poke deal with all the towers they put up south of Tucson that serve as wonderful observation posts for buzzards and hawks.
It is obvious that we’re not going to see any meangingful reform of immigration laws themselves until the border is secured and the flow of undocumented aliens and drugs is really seriously reduced.
OK…so lets get serious about securing the border and lets really define what metric we will use to declare the border “secure”? 50,000 Border Patrol agents? 40,000 BP agents and 10,000 National Guard?
How about conditioning appropriations to the Border Patrol on them stationing their agents within 10 miles of the line?
How about having ICE completely take over the function of chasing down illegal immigrants inside the US and not having the Border Patrol running around Maricopa and Pinal counties?
How about taking back the money DHS agreed to transfer to US Fish and Wildlife to study bats?
How about firing any BLM, National Forest or US Fish and Wildlife employee that in anyway impedes the operation of the Border Patrol on federal lands?
How about getting the billion dollars wasted on the Boeing scheme back?
Congress really needs to get inside the issue and understand why the border has not been secured already.
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