Fighting the Immigration Wars
Those arguing in support of immigration reform believe in a comprehensive approach with the ultimate resolution occurring after the border is secured. There are many plans that have several of the same components; although, many skeptics still must be convinced that it is not another amnesty program. American Thinker had the pleasure of interviewing some experts on this subject.
Former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FLA) wrote in his recent book, Immigration Wars -- Forging an American Solution "Control over immigration and the border is an essential attribute of national sovereignty." Senator Marco Rubio (R-FLA) has also stated that he would not issue any Green Cards until there is enforcement of the border. This should come as good news to Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) whose state is the gateway for illegal immigrants and the drug cartels. A recent Fox News poll shows that 69% of Americans favor securing the border before there is a path to citizenship.
Governor Brewer told American Thinker, "I am hoping all the concerns of the border governors will be addressed because we are the ones paying the price for the illegal immigration. I have been talking about the drug cartels on the national level as others talk about the "dreamers" and those coming across the border for a better life. A very important issue that must be dealt with is the drug cartels who extort the illegals and have drop houses, bringing across the border the bad stuff, such as cocaine and methamphetamines."
Former Governor Bush told American Thinker he agrees, "Governor Brewer is right and it is important that we have border control and harder enforcement for national security reasons as well as to deal with the criminal elements. We must maintain vigilance on the border." The criminal element, according to Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) includes those in the drug cartel that deal with human trafficking where most of the young girls are of Hispanic origin, which makes this "a quality of life issue as well."
American Thinker was given a number of suggestions on how to secure the border. Former Governor Bush, Congressman Poe, and former Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) all believe in a combination of an e-verify program and a biometric ID card with a computerized photograph and thumb print for guest workers, with an emphasis on the "guest." They argue that this is needed and the cost should be absorbed through a streamlined immigration system, by the person requesting the permit, and enforcement of international laws already in place that include biometrics.
Bilbray cannot understand how the border can be secured if employers within the U.S. are rewarded for hiring illegals. He points out that businesses still get tax benefits for their employees, whether legal or illegal. He would like to see an e-verify program along with the ID card to "reduce the amount of forged documents. Remember the out-of-control border is a symptom of the problem, not THE PROBLEM. The source of the problem is the out-of-control workplace where illegals can get their pay for breaking our laws and their bosses get cheap labor and a federal tax deduction. In fact, 40% of illegals come into the country legally and overstay. So even if we shut down the border we still have 40% of the problem until we shut down the hiring of illegals in the workplace."
Jeb Bush acknowledges civil libertarian concerns but does not think there is any better option and points out that ID cards would not be for Americans but for the guest workers. In many cases, illegal employers have poor working conditions, use underage children, and sexually harass the illegals. Because of these abuses, Bush feels these "tools would protect the people required to use them, and makes it harder for people to hire the illegal immigrants, those breaking the law. The combination of e-verify and the ID card will allow us to track people so we can determine if the rule of law is being upheld. These tools and a guest worker program are deterrents against illegal immigrants. Better enforcement not only protects our country from the negative effects of illegal immigration but allows the illegals to come out from the shadows."
Furthermore, he agrees with Congressman Poe that the majority of illegal immigrants, if given a choice of legally residing here or obtaining citizenship, would choose residency. Congressman Poe believes that a lot of those here illegally are not looking for citizenship but want jobs, so a guest-worker program for the agricultural states seems like a good solution. Governor Bush also says that there is statistical evidence to support this: the PEW Research Center and evidence from the 1987 law show that 60% of the people who were eligible to apply for citizenship did not.
Governor Brewer is not sure e-verify is the answer since the state of Arizona requires employers to use it. She confirms that in Arizona there are still too many employers that don't use it and too many people coming across the border who are able to obtain false documents. Her suggestions: to have ranchers who live on the border brought into the discussion, more fencing, more visible boots on the ground, and more technology, as was done in California. Bilbray confirms that after the placement of triple fencing and putting agents right on the border in San Diego the "most dangerous neighborhoods became one of the safest. I don't know what the outcry is about having a fence since in Mexico there is a tradition of building walls around their houses."
Kelly Kimbro, an Arizona rancher who lives on the border, wants the success rate of the Border Patrol to be based on the number of turn-backs, not the number of apprehensions. She wants constant coverage, 24/7, leaving no part of the border unobserved, with agents allowed to have and use firepower. Kelly agrees with Jeb Bush that there should be a partnership with Mexico so the border is patrolled on both sides as well as strategically placing agents on mountain peaks in the remote/rough terrain areas. She likened border security to the game of football, "when you are playing the game you have no chance of winning if you can't control the line of scrimmage."
Are there tangible ways for knowing when the border is secure? Governor Brewer puts a lot of faith in the Arizona ranchers who live on the border. Kelly Kimbro feels that currently 80% of those crossing the border are drug runners. She agrees with the description found in Andrew Gross' latest book, No Way Back, "Killing and not knowing who will be killed next are a way of life... These men are more vicious than animals."
American Thinker asked her how she would know when the border is secured. Her response, "When there are no more signs that drug runners had crossed; when I don't have to go into the Arizona mountains and read signs of danger; when I have faith that I can let my fifteen-year-old daughter go hiking on our ranch by herself; when I will not need to have a gun by my side as I drive up to my house; when our country school does not need to have armed teachers to protect against the possibility of having a drug runner enter the school; when I can leave my truck and ranch unlocked; and when I don't see and hear about fresh tracks, vandalism, and water lines cut."
All those interviewed are wondering how serious the Democrats and President Obama are about having immigration reform, which would help secure the border. Jeb Bush states in Immigration Wars, "President Obama's brazenly partisan political act (by passing Congress) only makes comprehensive immigration reform harder." Similarly, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Senator Rubio noted, 'Mr. Obama has "not done a thing" on reform and may prefer to keep it alive as an electoral winner for Democrats with Hispanics for years to come.' It certainly seems that way, since some Democratic spokespeople are pointing out that the senator is Cuban and cannot speak for Mexican immigrants. Former Governor Bush jokingly told American Thinker, "You mean the Anglo Democratic politicians who probably cannot speak Spanish? They are the ones saying that the bi-lingual and bi-cultural Marco Rubio does not have a voice? That is laughable."
The Obama Administration has shown it is not concerned with border security, considering their antics surrounding sequestration. ICE Director John Morton testified that the Obama Administration released 2228 illegals from federal custody before sequestration had occurred. They also put many border patrol agents on furlough. Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) finds it incredible that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the White House did not know that this was about to occur. "This administration's MO is to do and deny. These people are in charge so how can they withhold responsibility. It is incomprehensible to me. It's called duck and cover."
Just last week Morton admitted that among those released are ten individuals classified among the highest-risk offenders as well as repeat drunk drivers. Governor Brewer finds it appalling that it was done before sequestration occurred and without notifying the governors and law enforcement of the states affected, all red states. "The Federal Government took away from our law-enforcement access to background checks, and now they release people into our communities. We have no knowledge of how they are tracking them. I asked my Director of Public Safety and Homeland Security to request information on the number of illegal aliens released from federal custody into Arizona; their criminal profile, and the manner of supervision. Up to this point we have not heard back from them. It's unbelievable."
Did they release these illegals to sabotage any immigration reform plan that would have controlled the future flow of illegal immigrants? It seems that way, since all current immigration reform plans also address border security. The release of illegals by ICE demonstrates that the system is broken from the inside. After people cross the border, they are allowed to stay as long as they wish because there is no tracking mechanism regarding overstaying their visas and being employed illegally. As Kelly Kimbro stated, "We have a ridiculous and embarrassing policy regarding securing the border. I want to say I am hopeful, but at this point in time I am not optimistic that I will ever be able to truthfully utter the words, 'the border is secure.'"
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.