The security breach on our borders
A major national publication, Time magazine, has finally confronted the explosive issue of illegal immigration; better late than never. Time’s 15-page, in-depth investigative report confirms many of the aspects of this urgent national security problem that I’ve been writing about for several years.
“Despite all the talk of homeland security, sneaking into the U.S. is scandalously easy, and on the rise,” wrote Time investigative reporters Donald Barlett and Daniel Steele in a Sept. 20 cover story. “Millions of illegal aliens will pour across the U.S.-Mexican border this year, many from countries hostile to America.”
Finally, a national publication has sounded the alarm about illegal immigration even though most politicians, including President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., try to finesse or ignore the issue. Not a word has been heard from Congress or the White House since Bush proposed a thinly disguised amnesty program for millions of present and future illegal immigrants last January.
In my opinion, the president’s dangerous proposal was a cynical attempt to win votes from Hispanic Americans and unscrupulous businessmen who knowingly hire illegal aliens. “Popular belief has it that illegals are crossing the border in search of work,” Barlett and Steele wrote. “In fact, many have their jobs lined up before they leave Mexico. That’s because corporate managers go so far as to place orders with smugglers for a specific number of able bodies to be delivered. For corporate America, employing illegal aliens at wages so low few citizens could afford to take the jobs is great for profits and stockholders,” which explains why the Feds look the other way.
And let’s remember that businesses most likely to hire illegals – meat-packers, poultry producers, landscape firms, construction companies, office-cleaning firms and yes, even Nevada casinos – are big campaign contributors in this election year. Is that why our politicians are so reluctant to discuss illegal immigration? Try that question out on our congressional representatives, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, Republican Sen. John Ensign and GOP Rep. Jim Gibbons, next time you see them on the campaign trail.
How serious is the problem? Here are some facts uncovered by Barlett and Steele:
• “In a single day, more than 4,000 illegal aliens will walk across the busiest unlawful gateway into the U.S., the 375-mile border between Arizona and Mexico.” No searches for weapons, no shoe removal, no nothing.
• “The number of illegal aliens flooding into the U.S. this year will total 3 million – enough to fill 22,000 Boeing 737 airliners, or 60 flights every day for a year.” They’ll join 10 to 15 million illegals already living here.
• “As many as 190,000 illegals from countries other than Mexico have melted into the U.S. population so far this year.” In addition to Latin Americans, the Border Patrol has apprehended intruders from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Russia, China, Egypt, Iran and Iraq. “Law enforcement authorities believe the mass movement of illegals … offers the perfect cover for terrorists seeking to enter the U.S.” So much for homeland security.
• And finally, the number of companies prosecuted by the Feds for knowingly hiring illegal aliens dropped from more than 1,000 in 1992 to only 13 in 2002, the last year for which official statistics are available. As Time asserted, “For all the rhetoric about the perils of illegal immigration, Congress shows no interest in cracking down on employers.”
Despite creation of the new Homeland Security Department a couple of years ago with its Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the former INS), problems associated with illegal immigration have increased dramatically. According to Time, Bush’s misguided “temporary worker” proposal has attracted millions of illegals to the U.S. since January. Things are so bad in tiny Bisbee, Ariz., that the historic Copper Queen Community Hospital may be forced to close its doors after spending nearly $500,000 on emergency health care for illegal aliens last year.
Just since last October, Tucson sector Border Patrol agents have apprehended nearly 10,000 people who have criminal records in the U.S. including 378 with active arrest warrants, two of them for murder. Criminal aliens are overrunning our southern border, creating serious problems for understaffed local law enforcement and social services agencies. Hundreds, if not thousands, of these undesirables – many of them drug dealers – make their way north into neighboring Nevada, where I encounter them as an interpreter in the local courts.
So-called “immigration advocates” tell us that illegal immigration is a net plus for the U.S. economy. Try to sell that idea to our fellow citizens along the ArizonaÐMexico border. For its part, Mexico is doing absolutely nothing about the problem except for President Vicente Fox’s absurd “open borders” proposal. We’re the escape valve for Mexico’s failed economy, and they like it that way.
Meanwhile, Washington politicians and high-level bureaucrats, along with their Big Business friends, welcome the illegal immigrants who clean their houses, mow their lawns, cook their food and babysit their children. So why should they change anything even though national security is at stake? You ask ’em; I stutter.
Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.