by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado

In spite of the continued public outcry against illegal immigration resulting in well over 12,000,000 illegal aliens now at large in our country, the federal government continues its half-hearted and ineffective efforts to secure our southern border. A decision to send 1200 National Guard troops to the border to provide administrative and technical assistance to the overmatched Border Patrol is a feeble gesture. It amounts to little more than a show of force since the troops have no authority to enforce the law or to use their weapons except in self-defense.

The show of force, moreover, is unconvincing since the smugglers and illegals know full well that the troops will not use force. They are being deployed mainly to make it appear that the administration is doing something in the face of growing efforts by individual states to take matters into their own hands. The administration, meanwhile, continues to insist that the ultimate solution is comprehensive immigration policy reform.

There is, of course, much about immigration policy that needs reforms such as finding a way to admit more needed scientists, engineers, mathematicians and entrepreneurs rather than unskilled and uneducated laborers to add to those already here in abundance. With one-tenth of the labor force currently unemployed, Americans are going to have to start doing some of those hard and dirty jobs that illegals have been doing. Almost any kind of job is better than no job and we can’t keep extending jobless benefits forever as the administration seems intent on doing.

The Obama administration remains uncommitted to stopping illegal immigration for fear of alienating Hispanic voters and offending Mexico, an important trading partner and producer of oil. It continues to resist efforts to stop illegal border crossers at the border, focusing instead on sanctions against employers. There are, however, compelling reasons why the border should be secured by whatever means it takes, including the use of military forces unhampered by the archaic posse comitatus doctrine which was intended to limit the use of military forces in law enforcement activities involving American citizens. In this case, the troops would be guarding the border. Any nation has a right to use its troops to protect its borders.

The Border Patrol has largely employed a policy of catch and release. Some illegals try to enter many times before they finally succeed. There is little incentive to cease trying because they have little to lose. Entering a country illegally is a serious crime that would result in incarceration in many countries. Here, however, it is a game played nightly by Border Patrol agents and the smugglers and their clients.

But instead of merely deporting and releasing illegals to try again, they should be charged with a federal crime and jailed for a period of time sufficient to discourage further attempts. The word would soon spread that sneaking across the border isn’t worth the consequences of getting caught. The excuse now, of course, is that we haven’t sufficient detention facilities. Then we should build some more. People in the border states want action now. They are tired of excuses from the federal government. There is excess space on federal reservations and probably adequate facilities to house prisoners at minimum expense. These facilities don’t have to be country clubs.

Mexico’s government would protest, of course, as would our own apologists for the illegal aliens. So, what’s new? The time has come for Mexico to support our efforts to control our common border and to do something about the miserable conditions that cause millions of their impoverished citizens to flee their own country at great risk.

There is no question that a determined effort by the federal government could stop illegal immigration if it really wanted to. And it should for many reasons, some self-serving but some humane. Sneaking across the border is a dangerous game. In the first half of 2010, over 130 illegal immigrants have died trying to cross Arizona’s southern deserts, a 40% increase over the same period last year. And these numbers include only those bodies that have been found in Arizona. At this rate, over 200 will die this year in Arizona alone.

Conditions in Mexico must be dreadful indeed for people to take such risks. But many migrants are not fully aware of the risks. While that is the fault primarily of the Mexican government, we are not blameless. We must remove the attractions that lure desperate migrants to their deaths. One step is to continue to ramp up sanctions against employers and also households that hire undocumented workers. The other is to get he word out that those who violate our border will likely be caught and incarcerated, not just taken back across the border and released to try again. We can no longer afford to take a benign attitude toward illegal immigration which is based on the mistaken notion that they are doing jobs that Americans won’t do and which unfairly favors the citizens of a single country simply because of its proximity. CRO

copyright 2010 J.F. Kelly, Jr

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.

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