When the idiots shouting all those slogans and insults, on both the Left and on the Right, finally shut up long enough to let the sober and the mature address the issues of moment, the basic issues become clear, although the inevitable renewal of braying from the whiners obscures their discovery too often. In the case of sorting out Immigration Reform and also addressing National Security, a common priority shows up: Border Security. What to do about the millions of illegals already here is one concern, but there needs to be a means for reducing, ideally stopping, the flow of more illegal immigrants to the United States.
The United States has more problems with its borders than people realize. In addition to the much-publicized southern land border with Mexico, there is the all-too-often-ignored border with Canada, but there is also the Virtual Border; that network of sea and air ports which allow foreigners entry to the United States from thousands of locations along the coasts and in countless towns and cities. If we are to be serious about the National Security aspects of Border Control, we have to acknowledge that the known terrorist cells have flown or driven into the United States. While the use of ‘coyotes’ is a disturbing possibility that needs attention, we must not forget the use of ubiquitous travel services already known to serve the needs of Al Qaeda and other terror groups.
Now, there have been a lot of people saying one thing or another to accuse President George W. Bush of neglecting Border Security. The Customs and Border Patrol offices of the DHS report that for Fiscal Year 2005, CBP had a budget of $6.457 Billion and 40,636 Full-Time Employees. For Fiscal 2006 that was increased to $7.144 Billion and 41,986 Full-Time Employees. And for Fiscal 2007 that was increased again to $7.846 Billion and 43,758 Full-Time Employees. Each of these budgets was the all-time biggest when they were announced, and the 2007 Budget is three times what was allotted in the Fiscal 1995 Budget, not only for the office but for Border Patrol in specific, and five times the Budget for 1993. That’s a geometric increase in scale from the Clinton Administration.
While many people falsely accuse President Bush of supporting an “amnesty” or ignoring the need for secure borders, the President has actually been paying close attention to the people most familiar with the problem and the programs which work. The Secure Border Initiative, created by the DHS in special coordination with ICE, has recommended the Guest Worker program the President has discussed, in conjunction with Workplace Enforcement, the Criminal Alien Program (which targets and removes known criminals from other countries as a priority effort), and Fugitive Operations, which tracks down absconders inside the United States. As a result, where almost all interdiction in the past took place at the border, the United States today operates at multiple levels, pre-empting attempts before they reach the United States, capturing smuggling operations en route, and also chasing down illegals which get into the United States. For internal security reasons, the public does not hear much about such operations, but they are happening and are starting to have real effect.
Obviously, more needs to be done. To my mind, three significant campaigns need to be started. We need the Fence along the borders, north and south. We need a significant PR campaign to make clear that legal immigration is welcome, but illegal immigration is plain wrong, and we need Congress to take the leash off the IRS and FBI to catch and punish businesses which knowingly hire illegals or which refuse to employ identity security in hiring. Unfortunately, because of the demonstrated cowardice on Capitol Hill, this cannot effectively begin until 2007.
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