There is no argument among Americans about the incompetence of our Immigration and Naturalization Service. Most people would agree that a complete overhaul and make- over of the INS might raise it up to the level of being completely unsatisfactory and a little bit less than completely useless. Short of such changes, it isn't even worth bad commentary.
Our government cannot even tell us how many illegal aliens are now in the United States. You can pick any number between five and 15 million people, and your count would be just as meaningful as those reported from Washington. We do know people are making illegal border crossings from both the north and south. We know they are arriving here by sea. We know they enter by air using false documents and we know thousands upon thousand enter legally on tourist or student visas, and then disappear. We also know the INS can't even locate immigrants who are here legally, let alone those aliens who keep their activities below the radar.
Across the United States, there have been calls for securing our borders by a military presence. The loudest of these voices is Bill O'Reilly of the Fox News Channel. It is his feeling that the only way we can secure our borders is by providing a military barricade.
Charles W. Henderson is a Marine, a multi-titled author, and a free lance journalist who makes his home in Colorado. He admits our illegal immigration problem is out of control, but strongly rejects the idea of placing armed forces personnel along the borders. Henderson claims that, with the personnel requirements of our current struggle against terrorism and the issues facing us related to Iraq, more military personnel will be needed just to meet those operational demands. His argument is, if we must hire more people anyway, why not hire more federal and local law enforcement people to stabilize the borders.
"I warn everyone that this is a very dangerous time," says Henderson. "We must act smartly and with resolution. President Bush has great reason for concern. Most Americans simply do not realize the depth of this danger and where it all reaches. Therefore, we must act promptly, but with caution and prudence. We must mobilize an effective and well-trained police force, not the military, on our borders."
Henderson also contends this should be only the first phase of our work to stop the flow of people from south of the border. He feels that, if we help Mexico to develop its economy, more of its citizens would stay home. However, for them to end their northward flight, we need to assist in giving them lives free of starvation, disease, and ignorance.
Ed McCourt is a former Chief of Maritime Security for the State of Hawaii. A few years back he recalls apprehending 96 illegal Chinese boat people that debarked in his area of operations. He reports that all were well dressed. He says, "they all looked in very good physical condition and extremely healthy. They looked like military personnel."
That same night, he found out the INS had released most of the Chinese on their own recognizance, with orders to return the next morning. Only five reported back to INS. The next week, 136 illegal Chinese arrived in Hawaii, and their arrival was followed by the same scenario. Another border left unsecured.
Stacy Roberts is a retired Navy Captain and Presbyterian minister who resides in California. He sees the immigration problem from eyes turned southward. "One of the things I see is the need to insist on one language and teach everything in English. When God wanted to compound and separate the people of Babel, he broke them into language groups. People of different languages naturally dislike one another and separate into groups fiercely maintaining their own culture."
Roberts further says, "I wouldn't normally advocate the use of our military to protect and seal our borders, but in this present circumstance, the military forces are the only ones who have resources great enough to perform the mission. Furthermore, a good case can be made that protecting our borders is an essential part of providing for and main- taining our national security."
An interesting observation comes from Charlie Revie, a retired Lieutenant Colonel and Army Ranger who lives in New Mexico. "Even the best equipped troops can not stop the infiltration of their positions in combat, let alone stop the movement of people across a border. The most heavily armed and protected border in the world was the East German Border and Berlin Wall of the Cold War. It had lights, fences, barbed wire, minefields, forbidden zones, guard towers and guards with orders to 'shoot to kill', roving patrols, surveillance cameras, sensors, and more. Still, determined people got through. So, before we put any troops on the border as military units, as opposed to individuals backing up the border patrol and customs, what is their purpose? There is really no way they can stop the infiltration of people into the United States."
Robert Looke of Front Page Magazine advocates a "Super Fence" to stop people at the border. He proposes two huge fences. The first fence would be huge and barbed. Next to it would be a road with constant motor patrols. Then the second fence would be erected with flared barbed wire and a height of 15 feet. "If these fences were reinforced with steel and concrete", he says, "nobody would break through them".
And so the argument goes. Some want secure borders, while others say it is an impossible task. The only thing everyone seems to agree upon is that our immigration situation is completely out of control. It has been this way for years and keeps getting worse with each passing day. Since one of the primary duties of our national government is to provide for and maintain our national security, how would you grade its perform- ance?
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