A recent NPR report on the border and immigration shows how the Opravda media is helping to rewrite the rules for the upcoming amnesty battle in Washington. The long-accepted liberal framework of border security being the required first step before mass amnesty is now being reworked to a more convenient procedure for the anti-sovereignty crowd. A Texas immigration attorney opined that demanding border security is backward and prevents foreigners from easily snatching American jobs.
The new time line is a reversal of what has been proposed for a long time, but Obama’s second term is likely to have many such turnarounds that defy common sense about public policy: reward the lawbreakers first and we’ll clean up the details later (never).
Washington apparatchiks have been promising border security for years. In 1996, ICE Commissioner Doris Meissner declared that controlling the border “would be a three- to five-year effort,” putting success at 2001 at the latest:
California Border Patrols Busier Than Ever, San Francisco Chronicle, January 31, 1996
Meissner said that controlling the border is going to be a long- term, step-by-step process. “We’ve always said this would be a three- to five-year effort to build up to what would be needed,” she said.
But now the Obama minions believe that Republicans will fold like cheap lawn chairs and embrace open borders without even a pretend-assurance of border security. Such assumptions are well founded: plenty of professional “conservatives” like Sean Hannity are happy to reward foreign lawbreakers, despite the message of American fecklessness an amnesty would send around the world.
We know from psychology and child-rearing that rewarding a behavior gets more of it. Our entire justice system is based on the principle of punishing persons who commit socially undesirable actions. But the immigration issue is a weird parallel universe of reversed morality, so our elected representatives want to transform millions of foreign job thieves into legal workers, even as American unemployment remains at unconscionably high levels.
The following NPR link also includes an audio version. Interestingly, the URL, immigration-reform-before-border-control-experts-say, probably indicates the original title which may have been edited for being too honest.
Is The Border Secure Enough To Tackle The Immigration System?, National Public Radio, December 20, 2012
Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol has quintupled in size — growing from about 4,000 to more than 20,000 agents.
The government has constructed some 700 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It has placed thousands of ground sensors, lights, radar towers and cameras along the border. And Customs and Border Protection is now flying drones and helicopters to locate smuggles and rescue stranded immigrants.
So here’s the question: Is the Southwest border secure?
The number of illegal crossers apprehended is at a 40-year-low, which can be partly attributed to a weak U.S. job market and improving economy in Mexico. Drug seizures continue near historic highs and violent crime in border cities on the U.S. side has gone down.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says all those facts are indicators of progress in the right direction.
“If I were a police chief of a major city and I came in and I said we had reduced crime in four years by 70 to 80 percent, people would say, ‘That’s a great job. You’re a great police chief,’ ” she says. “If you took that and you applied it to what’s been going on along the Southwest border, you’d have to say objectively the same thing.”
A Byzantine Immigration System
But more and more people are realizing that illegal immigration is tied directly to the broken legal immigration system, not necessarily security.
People come for work without visas because they can’t easily get visas. Employers who need guest workers say it’s a long, frustrating, costly process to get the workers.
Here’s an analogy: Imagine immigration, especially from Latin America, as a two-lane residential street with a 20-mile-an-hour speed limit. Over the decades, it’s grown to an eight-lane superhighway. But the speed limit is still 20 mph. That is, visas for needed workers haven’t risen along with the traffic.
“If you want to keep it at 20 miles an hour, you have to put a cop every 20 feet. And that’s what the ‘secure the border first’ people are in effect trying to do,” says Daniel Kowalski, a Texas-based immigration attorney and editor of Bender’s Immigration Bulletin. He says demanding border security first is backward.
“You need to line the border with border patrol, shoulder to shoulder, and that’s just the wrong way to do it,” he says. “It’s too expensive. It’s easier to fix the numbers, rather than militarizing the border.”
Because the immigration system is so byzantine, up to half of the estimated 11 million people illegally in the U.S. came in legally, then overstayed their visas. No amount of border security would have stopped that.
How Can Security Be Measured?
Congress still wants to know whether all the resources along the border are working. There is no single objective measure of border security.
Until two years ago, the Department of Homeland Security used something called “operational control,” which Arizona Republican Senator-elect Jeff Flake wants the department to keep using.
“In essence, it basically means if someone sneaks across, you have a reasonable expectation of catching them,” Flake says. “We’re talking about something that is achievable and measurable.”
The House has passed a bill requiring DHS to use operational control, but the department says it’s obsolete. The measure only counts territory where actual Border Patrol agents are located.
DHS says something it calls the Border Security Index will take into account other things as well: areas covered by technology, air power, the rate of violent crime.
It’s been nearly three years since that new index was announced and it hasn’t been implemented yet. Even the Government Accountability Office said last year that DHS needs to do a better job of reporting its effectiveness on the border. But, even taking that into account, almost everyone agrees the border is more secure than it was 20 or even 10 years ago.
Napolitano says people who demand complete border security before immigration reform are not being realistic.
“There’s no border in the world that doesn’t have some form of migration, legal and illegal,” she says. “So saying it has to be zero is like saying we have to put the United States under some sort of Tupperware container and seal it off. That’s not how our country operates.”
Many lawmakers who’ve been blocking it now seem to realize that some sort of comprehensive immigration reform is necessary. The political reality is that more border security — or at least more accountability — is still likely to be part of any legislation.