Border Issues, Border Solutions

Written by on July 23, 2010 in Enforcement with 4 Comments

Yesterday, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border, Maritime, and Global Counterterrorism held a hearing on Enhancing DHS’ Efforts to Disrupt Alien Smuggling across Our Borders. Witnesses from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and Terry Goddard, Attorney General for the State of Arizona all testified. Unfortunately, the hearing ended up being short on solutions and long on rhetoric.

The hearing followed the release of a GAO report, which asserted that the DHS could do a better job along the southwest border by “leveraging investigative resources.” Subcommittee Chairman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) echoed results of the study, and also asked for DHS to use more performance measures so that Congress could better follow DHS’ progress in securing the border. Cuellar also expounded on the strength and utility of Operation Streamline, a program which is not without its own problems.

Representative Candice Miller (R-MI) chose a different tack, choosing to ignore the report altogether. Instead, she tried to push Arizona AG Terry Goddard into saying that we should classify criminal immigrants crossing the border as “enemy combatants,” and not afford them the rights and protections normally given in our court system. Goddard disagreed, stating that he believed that our civilian court system was strong enough.

In rebuttal, Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) pointed out that we have never caught any known terrorists coming across the southern border. Sanchez also pushed back on the assertion many have made to justify Arizona law SB1070—that nothing has been done along the border—pointing out that in recent years the Border Patrol has grown from 4,000 to 20,000 agents, and that just this year ICE will be adding 160 additional agents along the southwest border. Clearly, money is not the issue along the border.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) attempted to get the committee back on track—berating fellow members for talking about issues other than trying to stop alien smuggling—and asked the witnesses if they had any ideas about how to stop alien smuggling across the border (to which they were mostly silent). Rep. Al Green (D-TX) focused on guns, asking the witnesses for ideas on how to stop guns and money flowing across the border. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) was quick to point on in her time that while violence on the Mexican side of the border is still up, violent crime rates in Arizona are actually down.

So what should be tackled next among the myriad issues mentioned in yesterday’s hearing? Clearly, advanced metrics are needed to assess the progress that has been made on securing the border. Major issues must be dealt with—how to stop gun smuggling, alien smuggling—and how to not only ensure that violence does not cross the border into the U.S., but also how to reduce this violence in the first place. Finally, as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) pointed out, comprehensive immigration reform must be part of the package of solutions needed to solve these problems.

Photo by Deni

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  • I can’t believe that the story on CurrentTV — they stated that 500,000 migrant farm workers have left the state and left pepper crops to fail in Arizona. Why doesn’t network news present this issues. It seems all of the good intentions have gone astray. How can issues of society and politics come together for a reasonable and humanitarian solution?

  • Carlos Vilchis

    Governor Brewer,
    Promoting a more ethical culture within your government must be a priority, maintaining public security, trust, and confidence is what a state does on behalf of the community.
    Here in Mexico we believe that is essential and you have every right to provide this to your fellow Arizonians. Immigration is a complicated issue as we all know, we understand completely and we are of course against illegal immigrants crossing any border.
    But you and your consultants may have overlooked a few details in the implementation of 1070 law. It has the broadest and strictest immigration measures ever, it would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. This could be an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.
    Your government could not guarantee that the state police have proper training to carry out the law. How would officials know what constitutes reasonable suspicion that someone is in the United States illegally? Everyone would be a subject of sensitive surveillance skills of your police officers. This is not enough to guarantee proper police work in this matter.
    A month ago a border patrol officer killed a 15 year old boy who refused to drop a rock. A month after that, another officer beat to death in front of his family a man that was not breaking any law. All this may have a reason hopefully, but what is to happen with those legal immigrants or visitors in your soil that can be suspects just for their looks or not speaking fluid English?
    This governor with all due respect, needs to be taken to consideration again, and it can be done without the high costs of uncertainty and doubt.
    Mrs. Brewer as a leader you should believe in the value and the potential of every person. You are compromised to defend the right to life and work of the people, should actively support policies that offer women and men work opportunities regardless of their looks.
    You said that 10 % of all marijuana produced in Mexico is transported by highly organized and compartmentalized Mexican drug trafficking organizations each year. And if that is true, you would probably have to consider a social and health problem too.
    Because someone in your state has to inhale or smoke all the drugs that are provided. I would respectfully suggest that you may need to work on values in families and schools too, if you can encourage your youngsters in their future you would not have such a terrible drug problem.
    Governor Brewer, we should not allow that our governments responsible for watching justice and fairness in our countries, contribute to divide us as persons too, this is the true reason that terminates our hopes and dignity of our people and soak us in shame and regret.
    Carlos Vilchis

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