US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Obama plans to beef up border patrol

Father Tom Joyce CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

President Barack Obama has written House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking for $500 million to hire 1,000 more border patrol officers as well as more ICE agents and to finance other incidentals, such as aerial drones, to police the border. Proposed to stop trafficking in people, drugs, and guns, it’s actually a sop to insecure Americans in order to advance his other immigration reforms (see Washington Post).

“Secure borders” is becoming the big trade-off on immigration reform. Even Mexico is asking for it to prevent the flood of guns from the north. Border security and employer sanctions are offered in exchange for a path to citizenship, family reunification, and a new system for guest workers. Such is the program embraced by a coalition of big businesses--including Boeing, Hewlett-Packer, Disney, and News Corp.--and big-city mayors put together by Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City (See Los Angeles Times).

Yet the evidence isn’t really there that the border is insecure. Recent FBI statistics and the testimony of border chiefs of police have testified that border towns not only have a lower crime rates than the rest of the country, but they’re actually declining. Still Gov. Jan Brewer cited the crime on the border as justification for signing the Arizona exclusionary law. The perception and the reality are at odds. The new addition of enforcers at the border--including a previously announced 2,000 National Guard--will be an expensive overkill, as the fence was before it. Unauthorized immigration is significantly down because of the recession and the fear that the undocumented have because of the increased hostility to them. But sometimes the nation responds to fear with placebos (see Arizona Republic).

Another glitch in the Arizona law

The Arizona Republic has been reading through the new restrictive law (SB 1070) on immigration with a fine comb. It has pointed to the enormous burden the law will create for law enforcement in cost, time, and attention to real crime-fighting. It also described the burden on the courts and the jails. This is nothing to the real danger of racial/ethnic profiling. Now the newspaper reports another handicap to enforcing the law: What if the individual stopped by the police and asked for his documentation invoked his/her Miranda right to remain silent?