AMERICA'S POROUS SOUTHERN BORDER:
NEED FOR MUCH TIGHTER BORDER SECURITY
By Thomas G. Tancredo
"America is better protected against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction today than it ever has been, says the head [Robert C. Bonner] of the new federal agency [Bu- reau of Customs and Border Protection] assigned to guard the nation's 6,000 miles of in- ternational borders and 300 ports of entry.''
The borders, Commissioner Robert Bonner says, are sealed better than ever. Well, maybe something has happened down there in the last week or so that I am not aware of, but I can tell you what was the situation on our southern border, as recently as the last three and a half weeks ago, because I have just returned from there and observed how "sealed" the southern border is. In fact, of course, it is anything but protected. It is com- pletely and entirely porous.
To picture what I am talking about, consider the border between the United States and Mexico. At a particular point on the border, a cattle guard has been put up because so many people have come across at this point. They have knocked down the border fence so many times, the U.S. government has just given up putting up any sort of protection. The socalled "protection" was no more than a three-strand barbed-wire fence to begin with. It has been knocked over so many times, the ranchers put up a cattle guard to keep cattle from going across the border. But it certainly does not protect or seal the border. And this is the case for literally thousands of miles of the border.
There are signs along the border. Maybe these signs are what Commissioner Bonner is referring to when he says things are better now than ever before. There is a sign that was put up at a little spot on the border--actually put up quite a while back--but the ruts in the road that passes by this sign will show you how many times illegal aliens have come across here from Mexico into the United States The sign says, "All persons and vehicles must enter the United States at a designated port of entry only.'' Though the border at this point is not a designated port of entry, it is located in the middle of no- where, and there is not anything for hundreds of miles, except where multitudes of aliens have been coming across, knocking down fences, and illegally entering the United States.
Maybe this is the security device that we are talking about. Maybe this is what we will see when people come across, terrorists and others, who come across this place which is not a port of entry, and look at the sign and say, oh, golly, this is not a port of entry. I guess I should go several hundred miles to where it is a port of entry and try to come across there, and then they will turn back and go back into Mexico. Surely that is what this sign, we are assuming, is going to make happen.
Well, of course, it is not. The borders are not only not sealed better than ever, they are entirely porous.
There is a report from the Tucson sector from the U.S. Border Patrol that said that, as early as November of last year, they apprehended in just one sector 23,000 illegal aliens, but they also said that at least for every one they get, five get by them. So in the month of November, according to the Border Patrol, 100,000 people came across just the Tuc- son sector into the United States. They got 23,000 of them, turned them back, and, of course, those people very soon just came across the border when somebody was not looking.
There is a gentleman who owns a ranch, not too far from the location of the above-men- tioned border sign, as a matter of fact. His name is Roger Barnett. He, his wife, and his brother have personally interdicted over 2,000 people a month on their land, called the Border Patrol, and had it come and get the illegal aliens and take them away. More than 2,000 illegal aliens a month, these folks stop themselves on their ranch and get the Bor- der Patrol and come and get them.
The Tohono O'odom Indian Reservation, also in Arizona, not too far from the location of the border sign, has 1,500 people come across their land every single day, 1,500 ille- gal immigrants coming across a 71-mile section of the U.S.-Mexico border that is coter- minous with the southern border of the Tohono O'odom Indian Reservation. That's 1,500 illegal aliens a day, and we are supposed to believe that our borders are sealed better than ever. The borders are not sealed. They are not even remotely secure.
Now, maybe we are devising better methods of identification for people to show, so when people come through a port of entry, they have to prove who they are. That is a good idea. But let me suggest that people do not come across designated ports of entry if their intentions are cross the border illegally, and especially if they are terrorists coming into the country to do us great harm. They are coming across segments of the border in remote and wilderness areas.
Still More on Immigration & Illegal Aliens
Thomas G. Tancredo is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Sixth Congressional District of Colorado.
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