Illegal Immigration (Part One) - The Tide is Moving Out
This begins a series of articles where I will explore issues of illegal immigration and its economic, political and social impact on our nation. In this segment we will look at the current situation on the flow of illegal immigrants and the need for strong border security. In Part Two, we will look at some of the suggestions being made for how to reform the current immigration system, which is clearly broken at this time. Future segments will address plans for what to do with the millions of illegal aliens who have either entered the country illegally, or who have become illegal because of visa overstays. We will also address additional border security issues and the need to have a national discussion of these topics that is inclusive of sensible solutions to real problems.
THE TIDE IS MOVING OUT:
In an article in a recent Washington Examiner, columnist Michael Barone quotes a study done by Princeton University's Mexican Migration Project. In this study, project founder Douglas Massey reports illegal immigration from Mexico has fallen to a net zero. Citing our US Census Bureau numbers, Massy said the illegal alien population in the United States dropped from 12 million to 11 million during the recession period in the United States from 2008-2009. He goes on to say there has been a net zero balance of illegal immigrants from Mexico since then.
McAllen International Bridge between US and Mexico
Augustin Escobar, a demographer from a university in Guadalajara, Mexico, says, "I don't regard these findings as definitive, but they are very much in the ballpark."
The Pew Research Center confirms Barone's report in a recent announcement from the Pew Hispanic Center. In this announcement Feffrey Passell, D'Vera Cohn and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera state, "the largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill."
The report cites the sharp downward trend of the net migration from Mexico began about five years ago. The trend has led to the first significant decrease in at least two decades of the unauthorized Mexican population living in the United States. "As of 2011, some 6.1 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants were living in the US, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007..."
Their report sites, "The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and broader economic conditions in Mexico."
Barone and the Pew study make the point that perhaps we are at a turning point in our problem with illegal immigration. That could be true. And, if it is, this is the perfect time for us to take a look at three separate but equally important issues:
- Border Security
- Legal Immigration Reform
- How to humanely resolve the status of the remaining 11 million illegal aliens in this country.
While I say these are separate but equally important, I am not saying they should be dealt with sequentially. We have amazing resources in this country and we can assign these resources to deal with each issue separately, but at the same time.
The flow of illegal immigrants is only part of the reason why stronger border security is needed. We must have a secure border to both ensure the sovereignty of our nation and to protect us from those who would do us harm.
Drug cartels continue to take advantage of our lax border security to smuggle drugs into our country. This lax policy by our federal government has led to a devastating chaos on the southern side of our border and caused American citizens living and working along the borders to live in fear. This is especially true of our agricultural workers - farmers and ranchers.
In a video interview with Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, we discussed the impact of our lax border policy on the oil and gas industry in south Texas. The theft of our natural resources not only affects our supply of resources, it deprives our children of much needed tax revenues that would be used for public education.
Patterson said, "We have a serious problem with theft of product, whether it's oil or condensate, much of that are on leases where we have a multi interest, so they're in effect stealing from the school children of Texas because our multi interest in dedicated to the schoolchildren of Texas and on those very remote leases, we have criminal activity, whether it's stealing a product, as I mentioned, drug running coyotes, taking illegals back and forth. The law enforcement down there is spread thin, or in some cases, not too cooperative. So that's a national security problem. We think of immigration and border security in some area, but we don't think about what we're losing in one of our resources and that is oil and gas production. As a matter of fact, we've had oil stolen from Mexico. In Mexico, you just put a drill into a pipeline and put it in a truck and they'll drive it and sell it in the U.S. Then we have stuff that's stolen from the U.S. that's sold in Mexico."
Patterson continued, "There's a lot of criminal activity and it's dangerous and it's a national security issue. In the Land Office, we're putting a task force together to try and come up with a state solution for that using DPS and Rangers and oil and gas companies the Land Office and the Railroad Commission. We hope to be announcing something on that in the next couple months."
Terrorists have also used this lax border policy to funnel people and resources into our country. An example - in 2007, a group of terrorists were arrested just prior to attacking Fort Dix in New Jersey. Three of the "Fort Dix Six" terrorists were smuggled into the United States via Mexico. Last year, I reported on the numbers of what Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) refers to as OTM's (Other than Mexicans) who enter our country. Congressman Mike McCaul reported that about 88% of OTM illegals enter the US through Texas.
Republican Presidential Frontrunner, Governor Mitt Romney states we should build a fence from Brownsville to San Diego. In a recent debate between candidates for the US Senate from Texas, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz agreed with Romney. Unfortunately, this is an unpractical solution. For example, do we need to build a 20' high fence on top of a 600' cliff that is our natural border. Of course not. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Mr. Craig James sited the need for a variet of resources on the border including troops on the ground, air support technology and an increase in the size and manpower of US Border Patrol and local law enforcement. Dewhurst also agreed with more boots on the ground as a possible solution.
We need to apply our military security experts to develop and implement a multifaceted approach to border security. An approach that would deploy fences where appropriate, military forces and equipment where needed and a vast increase in the size of our US Border Patrol. Local law enforcement officials must also be supported to make certain that those on the front lines of our border defense are properly manned and equipped.
US Border Patrol Checkpoint in South Texas - 50 miles inland
IN PART TWO:
Currently our system makes it way too easy to enter this country illegally or to become illegal after entering legally. On the other side of the coin, we make it way too difficult to come here legally. This is where the "just enforce the law" people have it all messed up. Our laws for legal immigration are broken and need to be fixed. In Part Two of this series we will look at some potential reforms to our current immigration system.