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Volume 70, Issue 128, Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Opinion

Peril preys on unsecured borders

Tyler Nelson
Opinion Columnist

The Pew Hispanic Center reports that as of March 2005, the undocumented U.S. population has reached 11 million, which includes more than 6 million Mexicans. Over the past decade, the number of newly-arrived, unauthorized immigrants to the United States has averaged between 700,000 to 800,000 per year. These are staggering numbers that should concern all U.S. citizens. Illegal immigration is something that has become a significant problem, and the government has ignored and overlooked it for petty political reasons. 

Former President Clinton and President Bush both have done little to confront this issue. Only after 9/11 have we seen any change in how we patrol our borders, and even that change has been marginal. This past month, the Mexican government released a DVD that gives pointers on how to safely cross the border illegally. That's outrageous, especially considering that we now know the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were illegal immigrants. Terrorists from anywhere in the world could enter the United States through the Mexican border. We should all be alarmed that our southern neighbors are promoting this illegal activity. If our immigration system is not reformed, the likelihood of another tragedy like 9/11 will continue to exist.

To counter the influx of illegal immigrants, a new organization of private citizens, the Minuteman Project, is now patrolling the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona. They claim they are effectively doing what the federal government will not do, which is monitoring and protecting the border. Concerns have been raised because of the organization's possession of firearms and potential cruel measures toward illegal immigrants, or so claim the kind and caring American Civil Liberties Union. However, the Minuteman organization is correct in that something has to be done. But the answer does not lie in private citizens forming independent groups to do the job the taxpayer-funded border patrol ought to be doing. 

We don't need armed private citizens patrolling the desert in the middle of the night waiting for some poor person to cross the border. What we need is a stronger, more effective border-patrol system. Such a system would entail exactly what the Minuteman Project is doing ? putting more able bodies on the border. Sadly, it has taken a movement like this to effectively receive the attention of the federal government. Arizona is now getting 534 more patrol agents and 23 more aircraft units to protect its border. While extreme, the Minuteman Project may be the deus ex machina in the unsettled immigration problem. 

It is evident from both the Minuteman Project and the research done by the Pew Hispanic Center that illegal immigration has become a nightmare. The dangers of an unchecked border are obvious, with drug trafficking and terrorism at the top of the list. These are issues of safety and security for all U.S. citizens that should supersede any politician's desire to be politically correct. For example, Ebner Anibal Rivera Pax, a Honduras criminal, has been arrested eight times in California and deported four times during the past four years. So each time he was deported, he took a little vacation and came right back over the border and continued to steal cars, sell drugs and commit assault. He is currently in custody here in Texas but will most likely be deported once again. How insane is that?

Aside from safety issues, 25 percent of illegal residents are getting some form of government assistance, which is money that could be used to help bolster and fortify our borders or fund innumerable other projects. And many illegal immigrants do not pay taxes because their employers pay them under the table. That means the U.S. taxpayer picks up the bill for these assistance benefits. This is wrong; we are overtaxed as it is. Companies that hire undocumented workers need to be prosecuted, but no president ?neither Democrat nor Republican ? will push for stricter enforcement on these issues. I am in favor of increasing temporary worker visas to foreigners because it will help keep the economy strong and also provide workers with documentation so companies cannot pay them under the table. In addition, increased visas for workers and a more effective border patrol will help weed out the small percentage of foreigners who come here for illegal reasons ? drugs, terrorism and organized crime. 

Contrary to common belief, enforcing our immigration laws is not an act of racism towards Hispanics; anyone who thinks differently needs to wake up and recognize the dangers of unsecured borders. I personally lived in Mexico for two years and have seen the poverty and poor living conditions. I funded my own sabbatical to Mexico, and I grew to love the people and their culture. I want to help but not by compromising our safety and well-being. 

Charitable organizations and religious groups are taking larger roles internationally, and we can help individually by making donations and spending time abroad giving service. Doing so will help strengthen their communities and make the alternative of fleeing to the United States unattractive. Ultimately, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the foreign governments. They need to step up and do something ? I'm sure the money used to make and distribute certain DVDs could be used for wiser, more effective purposes. As Americans, we need to put this issue at the top of our national agenda by informing others and telling elected officials of our concern. Otherwise, our country will greatly suffer and foreign leaders will continue to condone this illegal activity. 

We live in a society that functions on the rule of law, but if the law is ignored, chaos will ensue. This mentality of overlooking the law for whatever reason is a dangerous slippery slope. If we continue to be lax on immigration, what other laws might we rationalize overlooking in order to be politically correct? 

Nelson, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at tbnveracruz@yahoo.com.

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