LatinaLista — In the aftermath of the continuing bad press Immigration and Customs Enforcement is receiving over the timing of the Swift plant raids, the puzzlement remains over how many were known to be involved beforehand in the identity theft scheme that it warranted being cited as the impetus for the nationwide campaign.
Before 9/11, there was an unspoken acknowledgement by law enforcement, local communities and the federal government that there were undocumented immigrants living in our country and working jobs with false papers.
ICE agents search workers during Swift raid in Greeley, Colorado
Every once in a while, just to flex their muscle, and maybe to justify their paychecks, a random raid by INS would be conducted where those found to be illegally here would be rounded up, put on a bus and deported.
More often than not, those same people were back the following week - at the same jobs with the same assumed identities.
It was a cycle that worked for the businesses, the local consumers and, of course, the immigrants.
When 9/11 happened and Congress, in their quest to make someone accountable for this tragedy, discovered that the murderers were immigrants, they suddenly proclaimed all immigrants as "enemy combatants."
Since then, border security, or the lack of it, has become synonymous with 9/11. Did it matter that any of these murderers had actually entered our country legally, and not by swimming the Rio Grande?
Of course not.
Suddenly, the facts of the case were replaced with the "what ifs." What if they had come through from Mexico disguising themselves as Latin American immigrants? What if they bought fake identities to worm their way into our country and attack us from within? What ifÂ…?
The sad thing is that while Congress was playing the "what if" game, Border Patrol agents were under real attack by Mexican drug smugglers getting more brazen and vicious in their ambitions to have a lucrative drug trade along our southern border.
The Border Patrol agents needed help and no one was listening.
Would Congress listen better if the word "terrorist" was thrown into the conversation?
So a group of Border Patrol agents went to Congress to plead for more money to combat those terrorists who were sure to be taking advantage of the understaffed border, but also for the ruthless drug traffickers.
Finally, the Border Patrol agents got Congress' attention, and some much needed money and equipment to do one of the most dangerous jobs in this country.
I'm not discounting that the border could and is being used by would-be terrorists but their numbers versus the drug dealers deserves to be looked at.
In other words, on any given day is a Border Patrol agent more likely to face an Al-Queda-trained terrorist or a blood-thirsty drug dealer?
All these questions came to mind when I read an interesting report by the Associated Press in today's newspaper.
The Border Patrol, in one of the five Texas sectors, seized about 50 tons of marijuana just 10 weeks into the fiscal year.
Evidently, that's a huge increase from last year.
The sector chief attributes this find to "a change in immigration policy" that allows them to "focus on drugs."
The increase in seizures of 181 percent over the same time last year can be traced in part to so-called "other than Mexican" immigrants no longer being turned loose after capture with a notice to appear before a judge, which they often ignored, sector chief Lynne Underdown said Thursday. Unlike Mexicans, other illegal immigrants can't be immediately deported.
Word apparently has reached non-Mexican immigrants that they can be detained and eventually deported, and apprehension numbers are down 70 percent, Chief Underdown said. As a result, she said, agents can spend more time chasing drug traffickers.
"We have gained control in the area of aliens," she said.
Someone who should know is saying that the border, regarding illegal entry, is under control.
Yet, why is it that we are still hearing that the border is under potential siege from terrorists?
Or that a group of undocumented workers of whom the majority are hard-working-family-church-going people are being equated and treated as Public Enemy #1/potential terrorists?
As Chief Underdown said, a change in immigration policy netted her sector great success in combating their local threat.
It just makes sense that it's time for an overall change in immigration policy to keep this country safe, families together, communities strong and industries operational without taking advantage of immigrant labor.