Thursday, June 3, 2010

. . . of the people, by the people, and for the people . .

Either we beef up the borders with the military, or up the Border Guard staff. Trillions are spent in thirty three foreign countries for American troops to protect them, but not one dollar is spent on them to protect American borders.

The Constitution states in Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

The US Army exists to defend the US from foreign invasion, which is expressly authorized by the US Constitution. Guarding US borders from foreign invasion is not "law enforcement." Guarding the Mexican border was the Army's primary peacetime mission until 1940, and no one ever declared this was in violation of this 1878 act. The US Border Patrol was formed in 1924 and currently has 9700 agents covering 8,000 miles of US borders. That is 1.2 Border Guards for each 1000.

Much of the border is not patrolled simply because it is too dangerous. In 2002, six Mexican Army Hummers were two miles inside US territory when Mexican soldiers fired over 150 rounds from vehicle-mounted machine guns, and a dozen MK-19 40mm grenade rounds, at two US Border Patrol agents investigating narcotics trafficking. In 2002, a US Park Ranger was killed when drug smugglers sprayed him with bullets from an AK-47, which struck him just below his bulletproof vest.

We have a fence that covers about 30% of the 2000 mile fence along the Mexican border, half of it covering Arizona. A government audit released last year reported thousands of fence breaches at a cost of $1,300 for each repair. On top of the price tag for building the fence, it will cost another $6.5 billion over the next 20 years to maintain it and related equipment. The Government Accountability Office has revealed that three persons “linked to terrorism” and 530 aliens from “special interest countries” were intercepted at Border Patrol checkpoints last year. The Border Guard estimates that 700,000 unknown persons slipped past them last year.

A multibillion-dollar “virtual fence” (dubbed SBInet) along the southwestern border promised for completion in 2009 to protect the U.S. from terrorists, violent drug smugglers and a flood of illegal immigrants is a long way from becoming a reality, and may never be completed. At one time, the government proposed lining the entire southwestern border with cameras, sensors and wired command centers that could detect illegal border crossers. But after spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 million, the defense contractor hired to build SBInet, Boeing Co., will complete only about 50 miles for certain.

Since February 2007, according to a review of federal records by The Washington Times, GAO has been telling Congress and Homeland Security that its high-tech border protection system needed better oversight and accountability, and it lacked realistic measures of cost, timing and benefits. In building the fence, one obstacle from the start was the government never came up with detailed requirements for the system and they never talked to the Border Patrol.

With the virtual fence already on an unstable foundation, the Obama administration has announced significant budget cuts for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) programs. Programs that depend on costly manpower, fencing, infrastructure and technology. President Obama's proposed 2011 budget would reduce the number of Border Patrol agents along the Southwest border by 180 agents, and cut the funding by $226 million for the "virtual fence."

Immigration reform was an issue Obama promised Latino groups that he would take up in his first year in office. However Obama now says, “I don’t want us to do something just for the sake of politics that doesn’t solve the problem.” To deal with it now could cost his administration votes this November. If the issue of immigration lies dormant for the rest of this year, Democrats will blame it on the Republican opposition, in actuality many Democrats probably don’t want to deal with an immigration bill this year either.

If the current administration is not serious about enforcing our nation’s immigration laws, in not wanting to deal with it, how can anyone criticize Arizona or any other state for setting their own immigration policies?

Is it about political strategy so as not to lose votes, or is it about a government that is supposed to represent the legal citizens of this country? A government that was supposedly elected by the people, for the people to represent the people.

~ Joe Sinagra

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