If we really wanted security along our Southwest border with Mexico the job would be finished. How could we have accomplished such an enormous task during the years spent arguing about border security? Razor wire fences and sharpshooters? Armed drones? Mines? Should we have made illegal border crossing a capital crime? Of course not, but if we were serious we would have found a way. The issue is not whether we can secure the border, but how far we are willing to go and what compromises we can accept. Will we ever admit that there are too many advantages to keeping this political football in play and never securing the border?
Is Southwest border security a done deal or a hoax?
After declaring the Southwest border open for business in March 2011, Homeland Security continued to boast its efforts to secure the border. DHS claims illegal border crossings have been reduced by almost half since 2008.¹
Other federal agencies are not so sure. A December 2012 GAO report offered a different opinion:
Our analysis of Border Patrol data for the Tucson sector showed little change in the percentage of estimated known illegal entrants who were apprehended by the Border Patrol over the past 5 fiscal years.²
What changed is where illegals are being apprehended. Using the Tucson sector as an example, the report found that the number of illegals nabbed closer to the border increased. Those caught farther away decreased. At the border the numbers were not very impressive:
There was little change in the percentage of apprehensions within 1 mile of the border.³
Is this more Obama administration funny math? Do we still have a problem at the border and if we do, do we want to solve it?
Do Republicans and the president agree on the need for better border security?
The House Border Security Information Improvement Act of 2012 would have required proof of progress at securing the border:
H.R. 6368 would require the Department of Justice, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, to provide a report to Congress on the Departments’ ability to track, investigate and quantify cross-border violence along the Southwest Border and provide recommendations to Congress on how to accurately track, investigate, and quantify cross-border violence.4
Regardless of what Secretary Napolitano says in public, Homeland Security thought border security was important enough to spend $4 billion on the Southwest border in 2011,5 a year that began with the DHS Secretary pulling the plug on the expensive SBInet technology disaster (see: Homeland Security’s Lesson in Denial).
The president agrees the job is unfinished. He talked about building on border security success during his State of the Union address. Is this a security issue or a political issue to be bartered in exchange for the GOP agreeing to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants?
Does border security have more value as a spending vehicle?
Southwest border security is big business. $4 billion for our border with Mexico is about $2 million per mile. That is a lot of money to spend on technology and a government security force in a year that gave us the “Southwest Border is Open For Business” announcement and DHS complaints about misinformation:
Yet, local leaders in border communities say misinformation about the safety of the Southwest border is hurting their communities, driving potential visitors away and hurting local businesses.
The reality is that the Southwest border is open for business.6
Nearly a year later the White House is still optimistic. It turns out we still have more to do, so border security is included on the Obama spending list:
The President’s proposal strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry, facilitates public-private partnerships aimed at increasing investment in foreign visitor processing, and continues supporting the use of technologies that help to secure the land and maritime borders of the United States.7
$9 an hour gives illegals a great reason to cross the border.
Only a Democrat would believe that an immigration reform bill using the border as a reason to hire more government workers and appease enforcement-minded Republicans will lead to greater security. If we were serious about deterring illegals we would fingerprint them when they are intercepted at the border and ban them from U.S. citizenship, legal status, and entry for life, a fitting punishment that saves taxpayers the cost of locking up offenders. Instead, we accept White House blame for an unfair, unjust immigration system and announce plans for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here, providing an incentive to cross the border that will prove irresistible to those still stuck in Mexico.
Land mines? Sharpshooters? The death penalty? How about a $9 minimum wage with assurances from our government of a path to citizenship and rights for illegal workers (see: These Are the American Workers Who Matter)? We are creating the greatest lure imaginable to break into the U.S. If we ever decide to finally secure the Southwest border, illegals will be buying parachutes and dropping from the sky.