We DO Need a Fence!
We already know that we are being flooded with people sneaking across our borders and straining local economies to the breaking point. In the California prison system alone, about 40% of prisoners are illegal aliens. Many of us think that, instead of demonstrating in our streets to make it easier for illegals to come here and stay, they should be in their own countries, demonstrating and otherwise putting pressure on their own governments to pressure them to allow the growth of conditions that attract them here.
By allowing illegals unlimited access to our country is simply to prolong the agony of the people they leave behind, and to enable their oppressors.
But is that all there is to the border problem?
We are fighting terrorists overseas; that is far better than fighting it here, in our own country. But how good a job are we doing at keeping the terrorists out of our country? Not a very good one, according to one source:
Illegal immigration into the United States is out of control, particularly across our southern border.
Several members of Congress and Governors have declared states of emergency. The problem is not merely the number of illegal immigrants. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from Central and South America, there are several hundreds, perhaps thousands, of illegal aliens from countries that sponsor terrorism or harbor terrorists entering the United States each year across our border with Mexico.
A secure, state-of-the-art border fence must be one element of any comprehensive effort to address the illegal immigration problem. Similar fences in Israel have reduced terrorist attacks by up to 95%. Until the border is secured and the tide of illegal immigration is stemmed, proposals to adjust immigration quotas, whether up or down, are doomed to ineffectiveness.
A border fence is entirely compatible with a guest worker program. In fact, a guest worker program would be reduced to irrelevance without such a fence.
Professor Jan C. Ting, Former Assistant Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services, is a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a professor of Law at Temple University Beasley School of Law. He says “…even as we fret about trying to protect our ports, power supply, mass transit and every other possible target against every conceivable terrorist threat at any time 24/7, it is supremely ironic that four years after 9/11 our national borders remain open and uncontrolled, and our government seems unconcerned. The simple reality is that tonight, four years after 9/11, and every night of the year, thousands of foreigners covertly enter the United States, and we have no idea who they are. Every night. Thousands. Who are they? Can it possibly be true that ... there’s nothing we can do to stop people from walking across our borders into the United States? I think there’s plenty that we could do if only we had the political will to do so. And I think it’s remarkable that four years after 9/11 we still don’t have the political will to do so. Are we not capable of building a fence like the one the Israelis have found effective in preventing terrorists from entering Israel?"
Estimates of illegal immigrants living in the United States:
1) Up to 20,000,000 (Bear Stearns Report, January 2005)
2) 10,000,000 to 12,000,000 (Federation for American Immigration Reform, 2005)
3) 11,000,000 (Pew Hispanic Research Center, 2005)
4) 10,000,000 (Center for immigration Studies, 2004)
The rate of illegal immigration is increasing; 1990's, 700,000 to 800,000 annually; 2000 - 2004, over 1,000,000 annually, and climbing (CIS) . The number of illegal immigrants in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia increased almost 70% from an estimated 300,000 in 2000 to 500,000 in 2004 (PHRC).
"Other Than Mexican" illegal immigrants pose a national security risk to the U.S. The serious national security threat posed by "Other Than Mexicans" is not widely understood. Approximately 100,000 illegal immigrants entering the United States from Mexico each year are not Mexicans. The Border Patrol refers to these persons as "OTM's" - "Other Than Mexicans"
Within the last year, over 450 OTM's have been apprehended illegally entering the United States from such officially-designated "special interest" countries as:
Two border state governors have declared "states of emergency" over illegal immigration;
Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona.
Illegal immigration is expensive - forcing citizens' taxes higherIn California alone, the annual estimated cost burden of providing education, health care and incarceration for illegal immigrants is over $10 billion:
1) Education. Californians spend approximately $7.7 billion annually on education for illegal immigrant children. Nearly 15 percent of the K-12 public school students in California are children of illegal aliens.
2) Health care. Uncompensated medical outlays for health care provided to the state's illegal alien population amount to about $1.4 billion a year.
3) Incarceration. The cost of incarcerating illegal aliens in California's prisons and jails amounts to about $1.4 billion a year (not including related law enforcement and judicial expenditures or the monetary costs of the crimes that led to their incarceration).
... WE NEED A FENCE! Securing our borders is the first step in any serious immigration reform plan. The first priority of the federal government is national security. National security is inherently incomplete if it does not include border security. Technology and the rise of internationally organized terrorism have made it possible for individuals to carry small weapons that can produce devastation on a scale that previously required armies, missiles or squadrons of aircraft.
We are a nation of immigrants, and it would be contrary to our history and cherished American values if we were to close our borders to legal immigration. However, illegal immigration is another matter, constituting a threat to both our national security and our economy. The border with Mexico must be secured first. That's where the biggest problem is.
The Canadian border is about 1,000 miles longer than the Mexican border, yet the vast majority of illegal immigration occurs across the Mexican border. It is not unreasonable to think about the need for a northern security fence once a southern security fence is in place and working. An effective border security fence is not a Berlin-type wall. The Berlin wall was designed to keep people prisoners in their own nation, not from illegally entering another nation.
The Israeli West Bank security fence is a better example of the state-of-the-art in border security. Many people have seen photographs and television images showing it to be a concrete wall. Those pictures are deceptive. The concrete wall portion of the barrier is roughly four percent of its overall length. Most of it is a fifty yard wide multi-layered composite obstacle comprised of several elements:
1) A ditch
2) Coils of barbed wire
3) Two tall, sturdy wire fences, with sensors to warn of any incursion.
4) A patrol path for vehicles between the fences
5) A smoothed strip of sand that runs parallel to the fence, to detect footprints.
6) Closed circuit TV cameras and motion detectors.
A barrier is an essential component of any effort to secure our borders; additional manpower alone cannot do the job.
Simply adding more border agents won't work unless there is one every hundred yards or so along the entire border. That would require between 150,000 and 200,000 agents and support personnel, rather than the 11,000 at present, and an annual budget of five to ten billion dollars. The cost of a modern border security fence is in line with its national security priority: roughly the cost of 4 B-2 bombers.
A 2,000 mile state-of-the-art border fence has been estimated to cost between four and eight billion dollars. That is roughly equivalent to four B-2 bombers or Virginia class submarines.
Such a fence could be designed with up to two hundred legal crossing points to accommodate commerce, tourism and legitimate commuting. Although expensive in terms of initial outlay, in the long term it is both less expensive and more effective than any other solution currently being proposed.