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Why immigration reform trumps border security

Why immigration reform trumps border security

LatinaLista -- In an online CNN Q & A that attempts to explain the federal lawsuit against Arizona's SB1070, the cable news network cites a series of polls that show the majority of Americans favor the Arizona bill.


According to the article:

Most of the surveys also indicate that a vast majority want border security beefed up, and that most Americans also favor giving illegal immigrants now living in the U.S. the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements. When asked which issue is most important, a majority of voters say border security trumps immigration reform as the top priority for the federal government.

To say that border security trumps immigration reform is -- if I may borrow the term from a rather well-known alien -- illogical. While GOP politicians and supporters of SB1070 like to throw out this argument in response to the immigration reform issue, the truth of the matter is that they use this argument because they know there is no way for any country to completely keep their borders from being breached.

Every student who has studied the history of the Berlin Wall knows how much trouble the East Germans had in keeping people from breaching their fortified and guarded border.

No, be assured that when someone is saying that they won't consider immigration reform until the border is secure, it's another way of saying they have no intention of working on immigration reform -- ever.

Yet, for those people who believe the pundits and the GOP politicians who say border security comes before immigration reform, it's time to see the two issues for what they are and not what some would have us believe.

For starters, violence at the U.S.-Mexico border is down.

El Paso and five other large cities on or near the border reported decreases in crime from 2008 to 2009 -- the peak years of Mexico's drug cartel wars -- according to FBI statistics.

The southwest border is also becoming safer, and border cities are among the nation's safest. Phoenix and other large border (and near-border) cities have some of the nation's lowest crime rates, including San Diego, El Paso and Austin. Furthermore, there is no evidence of "spillover" of violence from Mexico. El Paso, Texas, has three bridges leading directly into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the city that has suffered the most casualties as a result of Mexico's deadly war on drug cartels, which has claimed 23,000 lives since 2006.

El Paso experienced only 12 murders in 2009, which was actually down from 17 in 2008. San Diego, Calif., saw 41 murders in 2009, down from 55 in 2008, and Tucson, Ariz., experienced 35 in 2009, a significant decrease from the 65 murders committed in 2008. Claims of spillover violence are clearly overblown.

There's nothing the United States can do to eradicate violence on the Mexican side of the border but from all accounts it looks like U.S. border officials are doing their job, even before receiving that promised influx of National Guard troops.

Does this drop in violence mean our southern border is not being breached via illegal immigration? Of course not, but it does mean that the level of violent bloodshed as seen on the Mexican side of the border isn't materializing on our side to the same extent that is being falsely implied either.

And when we talk about border security, isn't this the kind of security that is uppermost in people's minds? No one wants to see what is happening in Mexico -- the flagrant use of violence to manipulate society -- find its way into American communities.

But what about the "terrorists" who sneak across the border? While anything is possible, the idea that terrorists are using our southern border to infiltrate the U.S. isn't something that our government's intelligence sees as a viable threat.

It bears repeating that all the 9/11 terrorists were men who came here legally and had visas or overstayed their visas. In fact, the majority of undocumented immigrants today are ones that came through the proper legal channels and overstayed their visas -- and that's why immigration reform trumps border security.

Border security deals with one geographic location. Immigration reform extends throughout the country into every community and work site. Reforming immigration would properly identify 11 million people. Faces would be matched with names and legal documents. Employers will be held accountable.

No longer would people be working or living in the proverbial shadows. They would be required to register. If there was someone who wasn't registered, their presence would be a red flag to federal officials.

Also, only through immigration reform can a real system be created that would keep better track of people who enter the country on a visa and be alerted to detain those who overstay their visa without proper permission.

Border security doesn't do that.

Immigration reform would reunite families legally and eliminate the illegal re-entry of parents, spouses and siblings trying to get back to their families from a deportation.

Try as it might, no level of border security will keep a family separated.

Immigration reform is badly needed for one overriding reason -- national security.

Border security alone pales in comparison when it comes to securing the whole nation -- and this is what immigration reform is all about.



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