Is Border Control Working?

21 02 2007

Cross posted from   Liberally Conservative

Is the flow of illegal immigrants subsiding with increased guards, fencing and technology? I personally have no way of knowing, others will offer insight in the comments section.

The International Herald Tribune offers a story that stepped up measures may be easing the flow of people attempting to cross the southern U.S. border.

All along the U.S.-Mexican border, there are signs that the measures that the U.S. Border Patrol and other agencies have taken over the past year, from erecting new barriers to posting 6,000 National Guardsmen as armed sentinels, are beginning to slow the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.

The only barometer to gauge whether migrants are being discouraged to attempt entering the United States is how many migrants are caught. In the past four months, the number has dropped 27 percent compared with the same period last year. In two sections around Yuma and near Del Rio, Texas, the numbers have fallen by nearly two- thirds, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security say.

“We are comfortable that this actually reflects a change in momentum,” Michael Chertoff, secretary for homeland security, said in an interview last week during his first official visit to Mexico City. “I’m always quick to say it doesn’t mean we can declare victory. To some degree, I expect the criminal organizations, or smugglers, are pulling back a little, watching to see if we lose interest.”

Border Patrol commanders argue the slackening flow of migrants belies the conventional wisdom that it is impossible to stem illegal migration along a 2,000 mile, or 3,200 kilometer, border. Many veteran officers in the force are now beginning to believe that with sufficient resources, it can be controlled.

The new measures range from simply putting more officers out on patrol to erecting stadium lights, secondary fences and barriers of thick, steel poles to stop smugglers from racing across the desert. The Border Patrol has deployed hundreds of new guards to watch rivers, man surveillance cameras and guard fences.

In Yuma, for instance, Ronald Colburn said that with the help of the National Guard they had doubled the agents to about 900, increased patrols, extended the primary steel wall out 8 miles past the end of San Luis Río Colorado, and constructed a vehicle barrier 6 miles beyond that. They have also built stadium lights and a secondary fence along the border where the town lies. “It’s the right mix, the right recipe.”

The U.S. government has also begun punishing migrants with prison time from the first time they enter illegally in some areas. For instance, along the 210 mile border covered by the Del Rio office of the Border Patrol, everyone caught crossing illegally is charged in federal court and sentenced to at least two weeks in prison.

That is an enormous break with past practice, when most Mexican migrants were simply taken back to the border and let go.

On the other side, Border Patrol agents say they are picking up about 100 people a day, rather than the 500 a day they handled a year ago.

Several migrants waiting their chance in San Luis curse under their breath in Spanish when asked about the soldiers and patrols. Some are indignant that the United States would treat them like enemies or criminals.

First, the Justice Department gave the Border Patrol agents the ability to deport most of the Central Americans in an expedited manner, without a hearing before a judge, which closed a loophole.

Then, in December 2005, the U.S. government started prosecuting everyone the Border Patrol picked up for illegal entry, a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to 6 months in county, state and federal jails for a first offense.

“I had no idea until they grabbed us and told us we were going to court,” he recalled. “They are using barbaric techniques.” But he acknowledged the stint in jail had convinced him not to try again, even if he is unable to pay his son’s college tuition.

“No way,” he said, shaking his head.

A little law enforcement may go a very long way in preventing mass entrance into the United States. Some of these immigrants believe passing into the U.S. is their civil right and don’t understand the fact they are criminals. Rule of Law is part of the English language they may begin to understand. Prison sentence may be another.

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email stiknstein@gmail.com and let us know at what level you would like to participate.

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