As the debate on immigration continues to heat up across the United States, not only has it made its way into many political races, but pro-immigrant groups like La Raza has pulled out their Stradivarius violins and started playing the ‘here for a better life’ tune- however immigration reform remains empty rhetoric from both parties and has left Americans divided.
Perhaps the 112th Congress should hold a round table meeting and listen to the guys who have worked on the front lines of immigration their entire careers – the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO).
The organization, who also puts out a daily newsletter called the M3 Report, released their 25-page comprehensive immigration solution plan today. The 10-step immigration reform plan, if followed, could actually find favor with many Americans.
The leaders at NAFBPO contend that their experience qualifies them to discuss “the flaws in present laws policies and practices, to set out steps that they see as necessary to improve control of illegal immigration, and to suggest improvements to the system for legal immigration.”
It all starts with enforcement. Without enforcement, nothing else matters and America is doomed to repeat the failed 1986 amnesty act which wasn’t implemented properly and was infested with massive fraud.
NAFBPO commends all those lawmakers who understand securing the borders is priority number one. The group wants Americans to be unaware that this effort is two-pronged. The obvious choice for illegal entry into the U.S remains the backcountry.
Over the past few years Washington has swelled the Border Patrol ranks and NAFBPO believes the current level of 20,000 agents is sufficient to perform their jobs, but would like to see these agents have all the tools necessary to successfully enforce immigration law and apprehend illegal border crossers.
Again enforcement is imperative and if there is no meaningful penalty put in place there will be a deterrent for repeat offenders.
The second prong in securing the borders is better detection at the larger and smaller ports of entry. “U.S. border enforcement strategy suffers from a severe imbalance of resources,” NAFBPO says. The technology required to enforce border operations at the ports of entry have suffered a lot of attention. “Criminals notice such things and adjust their modus operandi to take their operations to where the risks are lower.”
The inspection of those entering through the ports of entry, like El Paso, Texas, Nogales, Arizona or San Diego, California often choose them as the path of least resistance. CBP management concentrates on long border wait times and often prompts port-of-entry supervisors to get the lines moving. This expediency comes with a price, more illegal contraband and undocumented persons- all in the name of keeping the lines moving.
This CBP practice is what human traffickers and drug smugglers count on when they choose their entry points into the U.S.
A 2009 Texas Border Coalition report indicated that “much smuggling of people, drugs, and weapons has shifted from the open lands of the border between the ports to the ports themselves, concealed in the vast volume of traffic that is international trade. As many as three out of four aliens entering the U.S. illegally may be coming through those neglected ports of entry,” the report concludes.
The answer to this problem resides with expanded port of entry facilities and additional personnel. If American companies can build vans equipped with x-ray capabilities of seeing into homes, U.S. ports of entry should be able to effectively screen every truck, car and pedestrian entering the United States.
Next in line is interior enforcement. While many agree that illegal apprehensions are down because of the economy, if interior enforcement was in place during good times and bad many who come illegally would find it difficult to get a job and return home on their own.
NAFBPO contends key elements of the interior enforcement include; employer sanctions, prosecuting those who commit immigration fraud, respond to other law enforcement calls regarding illegal aliens, beef-up Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ranks to deal with interior enforcement and finally make sure no illegal alien feels safe from detection or removal.
Former Border Czar and current commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin says, “This is not about sealing the border. Until we have a legitimate labor market between Mexico and the United States, people will attempt to come here to work.” Contrary to what the commissioner says illegal immigrants come to America for jobs.
Using the stubborn economy as an example, many would-be immigrants have already returned to their home countries because they cannot find employment and if interior enforcement is ramped up theory dictates potential immigrants would no longer have an incentive to enter the U.S.
Another fact worth pointing out is America appears to be taking the best workers from poor countries, therefore leaving those who either cannot or will not work to improve their own country’s economic situation.
Moving forward America needs to use the tools Congress has allotted like E-verify, 287g, Social Security ‘no match’ letters (Meg Whitman ring a bell?), employer sanctions, a non-citizen entry-exit matching system and withholding federal funds from those cities who operate with sanctuary policies.
In an effort to crack down on fraud lawmakers in Washington D.C. need to implement tamper-resistant Social Security cards, consider the Real ID Act as well as implement an U.S. exit process which would help national security track down when folks enter and leave the country.
Once these standards are put into place and the border is secure, legislators can work on implementing a ‘temporary worker program.’
Again the goal should not be to reward illegal behavior. This visa program must be reserved for only temporary workers and not those trying to game the system. In order to guarantee a fair process these workers must apply for the temporary status in their home countries and they must appear in a consulate or dedicated office that can perform criminal background checks before temporary visas are issued.
The most controversial portion of comprehensive immigration reform remains “amnesty.”
NAFBPO makes it very clear they do not support amnesty and refer to the endemic fraud that took place during the 1986 amnesty granted under President Ronald Reagan. They also indicate that if America’s immigration laws were enforced amnesty would not be an issue.
Granting amnesty to 12 million illegals (this is a lowball number) not only presents a daunting task for those reviewing the paperwork but processing those petitions would take years and open the door to fraud. When lawmakers look to add the family reunification provision into the process, the number of those seeking amnesty can balloon by 20-30 million and suddenly Americans are saddled with additional strains on education, law enforcement and health care.
Amnesty also comes with a price tag and The Heritage Foundation puts that cost in the $2.6 trillion range over the next 20 years. Staggering numbers considering the national debt is well over $12 trillion.
While the folks at NAFBPO do not contemplate or encourage mass arrests that lead to deportation, they do believe a respectable and honest application process can weed out the lawbreakers.
In an effort to toughen up the immigration process NAFBPO suggest, “Illegal aliens be denied access to jobs, public benefits and sources of identification (driver’s licenses), vehicle registrations, mortgages and loans from federally-insured institutions and tuition assistance at public educational facilities.”
While looking at all the issues related to illegal immigration seem daunting, finding solutions may be as easy as holding round table discussions. Congress has already approved numerous tools for law enforcement and if these laws were integrated throughout government agencies charged with immigration control, it would be much more difficult for illegal aliens to game the system.
The U.S. is already the world leader when it comes to legal immigration; more than one million folks are allowed to obtain their part of the American dream each year. Millions more place their names on a waiting list and remain on the list for their turn. However, there are many politicians and business owners who allow millions to skirt U.S. immigration law and cut in line.
Cutting in line and not following the law should not be what America stands for, but running away from the illegal immigration debate will not solve the dilemma either. Hopefully the 112th Congress will work diligently to ensure America’s laws are enforced and illegal immigration reform solved.
To learn more about NAFBPO; http://m3report.wordpress.com/