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Report: Border security at point of ‘diminishing returns’

WASHINGTON – A dramatic buildup of security personnel on the Southwest border has contributed to a decline in illegal immigration, but more efforts will yield “diminishing returns,” according to a report released Thursday.

The report by the Washington Office on Latin America challenges “border hawk” claims that more military forces and higher fences are needed to further reduce illegal immigration and criminal activity, citing a 61 percent drop in apprehensions since 2005 and a lack of violence spilling over from Mexico.

The report, written with Mexico’s College of the Northern Border, also claims the same security policies that led to drop in illegal immigration are contributing to a humanitarian crisis by putting migrants in more danger.

“The security buildup has resulted in a confusing tangle of agencies whose mission is undermined by the lack of a clear strategy,” said Adam Isacson, who co-authored the report. “The facts contradict the frequent call to escalate the massive buildup of U.S. border security forces, including the military.”

That argument was strongly rejected by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. A spokesman said the claim that the border is secure is “astonishing,” noting continued calls for more federal support.

“That is astonishing news to ranchers all along the border who are on a daily basis hiding in their homes … from human traffickers and drug cartels,” said FAIR spokesman Bob Dane.

“And it is certainly news to most of the border-area sheriffs and law enforcement personnel who are pleading for more resources because they are outmanned and outgunned,” he said.

A Customs and Border Protection official said Border Patrol “is better staffed than at any time in its 87-year history and seizures of illicit goods are up across the board.”

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In an official response to the report, the Department of Homeland Security said it has “deployed historic levels of personnel, technology and infrastructure to the Southwest border to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, cash, and weapons” under President Barack Obama.

Isacson, noting the drop in border crossings, said continued calls for a border crackdown and rising anti-immigrant rhetoric are driven by four fears: illegal immigration, terrorist entry, spillover border violence and drug trafficking.

But migration is at a 40-year low, terrorists have not been detected and the violence in Mexico – save for a “few notorious incidents” – stays south of the border, the report said.

Only drug trafficking is a problem that has continued to escalate, Isacson said, demonstrating the inability of border security to act as a deterrent to drug cartels.

According to the report, the number of migrant deaths has remained constant even as migrant crossings have decreased dramatically. The report claims deaths are caused in part by the increased security presence, as migrants attempt to cross through more treacherous terrain.

FAIR rejected the argument that security forces are contributing to a humanitarian crisis at the border.

“It is preposterous to say that someone who enters the country illegally and is detained and deported is caught up in a humanitarian crisis,” Dane said. “That’s a slight to people all across the world who are starving to death and facing dangers for which they have no part in.”

The report’s authors did not research the impact of anti-illegal immigration bills such as Arizona’s SB 1070 on migration patterns. But Isacson believes such legislation, like higher fences, is not likely to have much impact on most people’s decisions to cross the border.

“They’re still going to come,” Isacson said. “Regardless of what Arizona does or the national mood is, their opportunities are still better here.”

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 5 »

Apr 20, 2012, 6:53 pm
-1 +1

This America is the land of opportunity, but only if you come here with permission and a work visa. For farmers and agricultural communities, there must be a well regulated system of arrival and departure, not the mess provided now. In furtherance special visas should be expedited for top professionals in Science, Engineering and a whole range of high technology, given us the brain power for a futuristic U.S, but we must spend the money to check on females who are carrying an unborn infant, with new detection systems at entry ports, as 400.000 arrivals are ready to conceive annually and apply for welfare.  Just calculate the uncompensated cost to hospitals that have to pay for this delivery? By the Congress just amending the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011 (H.R.140) the country could discontinue this billion dollar soaking of individual states?

Then just as viable and with a high success rate is the introduction of Verify (H.R. 2885) – Chairman Lamar Smith’s ‘Legal Workforce Act’.  Every worker hired would be eligible, if they are not flagged by the employers hook-up to the Social Security and Homeland Security databases. Those declined can fortunately travel to the SSA to get clearance for their new job. Foreign illegal workers would not go to any government agency anyway. Marco Rubio may be providing a less tough immigration enforcement ideology to Romney, but it could mean a loss of votes? Mitt Romney already stated that unauthorized workers would “self Deport” when employment cannot be located. Businesses owners and management that don’t follow the law could lose business licenses, profits, be fined and even end in a prison cell.
The best hope with have is to elect TEA PARTY leaders who have a different approach to every issue, who believe in the free competitive business enterprise, self reliance on our own abundance of oil, natural gas and clean coal. Huge deposits await us that are so plentiful, we can supply it to Europe and other friendly countries.

Apr 20, 2012, 6:51 pm
-1 +2

One of the greatest menaces to our immigration laws is the ‘unfunded mandates’ forced on every taxpayer by the U.S. courts. All 50 states are held accountable to pay for the large populations of illegal aliens, where taxes are taken to pay for their medical health, children’s schooling and under the birthright citizen law, allocating food stamps, low income housing and numerous other benefits that citizens are denied. Many welfare programs have been crippled because of females who arrive here illegally by any means, with an unborn child can apply for natal care and other subsidies. The fact that our borders are still not secured, that women are able to enter here pregnant, in the years that followed we have children of illegal aliens smothering our public schools. In 20 years the populace of foreigners coming here are directly affecting any chance of slowing population growth through each prior and post administration are responsible for not enforcing immigration laws and not the absconder from their own country? And still over a million new imported legal immigrants are allowed to come here.  What are these so called legislators thinking, when they are cutting off welfare for U.S. born American or resident aliens?

The U.S. public are generous and passionate and the biggest philanthropist in the world.  But we cannot continue to fight distant wars and take in every desperate pauper from any corner of the world. We must stop printing money and make a giant effort to remove illegal aliens by ATTRITION BY ENFORCEMENT.

Apr 20, 2012, 6:50 pm
-1 +0

Illegal Immigrants who are constantly pouring across our borders and entering America as international tourists are adding to this population growth. Because of this uncontrolled travesty, our energy supplies are under constant strain as is our health care system, public education and a the erosion of our once admired freeways and highways. Underground our sewer systems, is crumbling, with some pipelines over 50 years old.  30 years of indifferent administrations have allowed this incompetency to flourish and now our grandchildren are facing a 16 Trillion dollar deficit.  Unquestionably we need an ultra strong Congress, which must dismiss incumbents that are not doing their job. Not just the do-nothing law makers in Washington, but hard core leftists, Democrats, Republicans and the state Governors, Mayors, and all those involved in pampering illegal aliens at the state, county and local elected officials. These people who are filling their pockets with campaign contributions are sole to blame and ignorance for the Sanctuary City ordinances, the Chain Migration adding to even larger population and other regulations such as making the public pay for Dream Act children and any new secret visa’s for people, that is really just another Comprehensive Immigration Reform known as Amnesty.

As for the controversial issue of the ‘DREAM ACT’ for granting a quick passage of illegal alien’s children will not be Fair? Thousands of people wait patiently for years, sometimes as much as 10 years to receive an entry visa.

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Dustin Volz/Cronkite News Service

Maureen Meyer and Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America discuss their report about the U.S.-Mexico border that says a buildup of security in recent years has made the border safe and that more military presence will yield diminishing returns.

Making a safe, 'humane' border

The Washington Office on Latin America lists eight policy recommendations to end the “humanitarian crisis” along the Southwest border. They are:

  • Create a comprehensive border strategy that increases federal agency cooperation and sharing of resources and intelligence.
  • Do not invest additional resources, which have reached a point of diminishing returns.
  • Invest more at ports of entry, where resources are most needed to fight drug trafficking.
  • Reduce the Defense Department’s role on the border and hand some responsibilities to local groups.
  • Let humanitarian groups work freely while increasing Border Patrol resources for search-and-rescue operations.
  • Strengthen Border Patrol accountability to reduce cases of abuse or human-rights violations against migrants.
  • Increase cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico.
  • Change repatriation practices to keep migrant families together.

Source: Washington Office on Latin America