The Border Crisis – Decades Old

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A metal obelisk marked the international border in Ambos Nogales circa 1913. American (left) and Mexican (right) sentries patrolled the line. (Wiki Commons)

For decades, illegal immigration from the southwest border has been a struggle for the United States.  Lack of border barriers, loopholes in laws, drug and human smuggling, lead to human loss.  The statistics of drug overdoses in this country are overwhelming.  The majority of drug smuggling is controlled by Mexican cartels both from Mexico, and from within the United States.  California has the 13th highest child sex trafficking rate. Approximately 17,000 people are trafficked into the U.S. from Mexico every year.  In order to solve the immigration crisis that seems to get worst each year, there needs to be a bi-partisan common-sense immigration & border security plan which will not repeat history. 

Most will be surprised to learn that the U.S. Mexican border fencing was erected by soldiers as ear;y as 1910. Tensions between the two countries due to cross-border migration. Although the U.S. Border Patrol was established in 1924, guards patrolled the southwest border on horseback as far back as 1904.  In 1955, chain link fencing separated San Ysidro from Tijuana to keep cattle from crossing the border, but it wasn’t until 1978 that the “border wall” controversy began. 

In 1977, Congress approved $4 million to replace the damaged pre-existing fencing in San Ysidro and El Paso with a barrier made of a three-foot concrete base and three feet of steel topped with four feet of chain link fencing. The move to improve border security was part of President Jimmy Carter’s campaign promise to control illegal immigration.  The barrier, although 10-feet high, was not intended to stop border jumpers but to slow the flow of illegal immigrants and force them out in the open for better exposure and apprehension. 

 The controversy began due to jagged edges of the steel that could possibly cut the toes of anyone who attempted to climb the proposed border fencing.  The Democrats, including President Jimmy Carter all began to backtrack on replacing the fence.  Either they wanted a new plan for fencing, or none at all.  What is important to note is that Carter was negotiating with Mexico on natural gas exports.  Eventually, the fencing construction began, and more agents were brought in, but not in time for the border patrol to see a wave of violence and illegal alien crossings rise.  In the first eight months of 1979, 240,000 illegal immigrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.  Illegal aliens knew the laws, loopholes and their rights.  Many were released back into Mexico voluntarily, only to return shortly after. 

After 40 years of controversy over immigration policies, the United States is nowhere near securing the border completely.  Billions of dollars have been spent on many facets for security at the US-Mexico border with no real solution that completely worked due to political bias from one side or the other.  In 2013 ,a $46 Billion-dollar bill sponsored by Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer which included approximately $8 billion to repair and build 700 miles of fencing along the southern border, passed the Senate, but not the Republican controlled House of Representatives. 

It is easy to imagine a wall such as the one built in Israel as the answer to border security and no doubt it wouof be a solution.  However, the wall that most see on social media is only part of the barrier structure.  Topography does not permit the barrier in certain areas.  Israel has not seen a shortage in court cases disputing the morality of their “wall”.  In fact, 3 days prior to this article, Lebanon filed a complaint with the United Nations over the building of the border wall.  Borders will always be disputed by countries and human rights activists, and in America’s case, mostly by partisan politicians. 

There is much debate as to the effectiveness of a border structures.  Some “analysts” will tell the American people that border fences or walls do not work.  This is untrue.  The effectiveness of border fencing is only as effective as the technology and the amount of border patrol that is provided as well. Israel’s 440 mile “wall” cost $416 million which is guarded by men, there are underground censors, land mines, trenches and drones.  Border Patrol Agents have requested along with physical barriers, more agents, aerial drones, better radios for communication, sensors and helicopters equipped with infrared.

Funding border security will only fix part of illegal immigration. The “catch and release” practice, which allows the U.S. to release an alien after apprehension, until their specified court date, is a 20-year-old combination of policies, court precedents, executive actions and federal statutes. The Flores Agreement handicaps the government in detaining and immediately removing unaccompanied alien children.  The children must be released to the Department of Health and Human Services which places the children in shelters or foster homes until a sponsor is located. Like the adults, many minors fail to appear for their court date or adhere to orders to be removed. Because of this loophole in immigration, human traffickers will use strangers, posing as family units, to smuggle children into the United States. Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act also hinders Department of Homeland Security from immediately returning unaccompanied alien children who are not from Mexico or Canada from being returned to their home.

 The United States had decades to fix illegal immigration and all the negative effects that stems from it. Partisan politics and a lack of common-sense solutions have continued to affect human safety, undue financial burden on American tax payers, and strain the American judicial system.  As long as the U.S. continues to repeat history, the border crisis will become much worse.