10 Reasons The US Needs Better Border Security
Love him or loathe him, The Donald has put the questions of border security and immigration firmly to the forefront of the national debate. Of course the US as a nation is famously a melting pot founded through immigration of diverse peoples, so why has this become a contentious issue?
The real concern that many have is that unregulated and illegal immigration will give rise to social problems, threatening jobs, overwhelming the amenity provision in border areas and threatening the traditional American way of life.
Most countries regulate who may enter and why, whether as short term visitors or to live and work so there is no shame in the US doing likewise. Indeed as a nation the US has very strict entry visa requirements. Nevertheless voters, particularly in border states, concerns continue to express concerns about the policies used to secure the border and the funding given to finance enforcement. The debate tends to polarize into two separate camps with typical Republican voters arguing that more funding needs to be diverted to secure the borders. Meanwhile Democrats tend to espouse the idea that immigration is generally a positive and want to make it easier for illegals to legalize their status reflecting the de-facto reality of life on the ground.
We believe that border security should be viewed as a priority and furthermore 71% of Americans agree with us. Here are 10 of the reasons we believe better border security is vital for America.
10. America’s Land Borders Are Long And Vulnerable
America is a large country and has extensive land borders. Border security is responsible for protecting 5,525 miles of border with Canada, 1,989 miles of border with Mexico and a lengthy 95,000 miles of shore. This is no mean feat, particularly given that approximately 330 million non-Americans cross the borders each year. Many of those will come for valid reasons, as tourists or legal immigrants but others will have more sinister purposes.
The border of main concern as regards border security is the one we share with Mexico. While citizens of Canada share (mostly) a common language, general common principles and have a fairly equivalent standard of living to people in the US there is far more inequality between Mexicans and Americans. For this reason many Mexicans (and other Latin Americans who use Mexico as a gateway) see America as the ‘land of opportunity’ and want to travel here to live and work.
For this reason the US/Mexico border is heavily protected with about 18,000 border patrol officials dedicated to that stretch of land. Nevertheless it would be unwise to leave the Canadian border unprotected. Although our border services work closely with their Canadian equivalents there are only 2,100 border agents detailed to control the Canadian border. The relative ease and freedom of movement between the US and Canada means that there is huge potential for terrorists to use that as their principle means of entry into the USA.
Given the length of coastline it would also not be unreasonable to channel further funding to the coastguard to enable them to increase patrols along easy entry and smuggling routes.
9. Failure To Tackle Border Security Adequately At The Federal Level May Lead To An Increase In Vigilantism
Repeated failures to tackle what many believe to be a rising tide of immigration along the southern border has led to some in the border regions feeling as though they are under threat. As the federal government has failed to respond in what they feel is an appropriate manner, they have started to take the law into their own hands forming roving vigilante groups to ‘protect’ the border relying on the right to make a citizens arrest.
The combination of the Second Amendment and the relatively relaxed rules on gun purchase in many of the border states means that the vast majority of these vigilantes are well armed. Many are veterans or security specialists and are well versed in combat and weapons handling. This creates a potentially very dangerous and extremely volatile situation. While some of the groups are at pains to advertise high levels of professionalism in recruitment and their rules of engagement this does not make some of the people who fear getting caught in the crossfire feel any safer. As they point out these vigilantes might be able to shoot but they do not get the extensive training in judging difficult situations that is given to all law enforcement officials
Strong border enforcement would prevent these vigilante groups from using the need for extra patrols as an excuse to form these potentially dangerous groups.
8. Weak Border Security Can Facilitate The Spread Of Disease
While many of the concerns surrounding uncontrolled illegal immigration and weak border security are economic we should not minimize the threat of disease transmission.
Just last year the world watched with horror as a significant swathe of West Africa struggled under the burden of Ebola virus. The world responded to this undoubted humanitarian crisis, as we should, by sending relief teams of doctors, nurses and other personnel. Despite these professionals being given the very best protection some developed the disease and had to be evacuated back to their home countries such as the US and the UK. When they arrived they were treated for the disease in strict quarantine. Imagine the scenario if someone infected by Ebola had made it to Canada or Mexico and then come through the borders to the US?
We are watching a very similar scenario play out this year with the rapid spread of the Zika virus. Almost unknown until relatively recently this virus has spread from an unexpected outbreak in Brazil across much of Latin America and has now entered the US.
Many illegal immigrants come from some of the poorest communities with little access to health care. They may carry diseases such as scabies, TB, MRSA or staph. When legal immigrants apply for their visas they are required to undergo health screening but for those that come across the borders illegally or those who move over legally but overstay there are no checks on health status. Not only does this put the health of American citizens at risk but it also puts an unconscionable strain on American Health Services (see below).
7. Weak Border Security Permits Criminals To Enter Our Country
If we are to believe the rhetoric of the liberal left we would believe that every illegal immigrant to this country is a stand-up guy or gal. A person who would have come across legally, if only the mean old USA had made it easier for them and treated them fairly. They will slave 3 jobs each to give their kids the chance to play sports and get a scholarship and send 50% of their wages to ailing grandparents and disabled siblings back home.
Now of course there are people like that, truly wonderful, inspirational people who really do work hard and are an asset to the communities in which they settle, we should do all we can to normalize their status and make sure that they are protected from exploitation. But not all illegal immigrants are noble, worthy and hard working.
As of 2015 there were 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Liberals tend to claim that this is not a huge burden on the US as it equates to only 4% of the total population and just over 5% of the workforce. However illegal immigrants tend to cluster in just a handful of states with 60% to be found in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Texas and California placing a disproportionate burden of support, competition for jobs and management on those states. The statistics on criminality are, however, even more frightening. In 2009 the Department of Homeland Security estimated that 20% of the prison population were immigrants to the US and 57% of fugitive murderers/FBI most wanted were foreigners. In 2013 Immigration and Customs released 36,007 criminal aliens who had made their way to the US and were awaiting a deportation decision. These criminals had racked up a staggering 88,000 offences between them. While some were minor others included 193 homicides, 426 sexual assaults and 303 kidnappings. Some of these were released on bail or under supervision orders but others were released on their own recognizance. They are hardly the type of people we should want to encourage to come and live in the US.
While we do not believe that all immigrants should automatically be assumed to be criminals we believe it is criminal to ignore the inconvenient truth that many do commit crimes on American soil. We should be making it easier for the right sort of immigrant to come and contribute to our country while securing our borders against undesirable criminals.
6. Weak Border Security Encourages People To Enter The Country Illegally And Prevents Them Accessing Important Services Safely And Securely
When people come to the US illegally they have to do everything they can to stay under the radar, to escape the notice of the authorities in case they are discovered and deported. While this is ok when all is going well it can cause problems for people who need to access support services. Many immigrants come from patriarchal societies where battery and even sexual assault and rape are not perceived in the same way as they are in the US. Women who have entered the country illegally are in danger from abusive relationships because they worry about the potential negative consequences of speaking to Womens’ Aid. Isolation from traditional support networks of friends and family only serves to exacerbate the situation. Their abuser not only threatens their emotional and physical integrity on a regular basis but holds over them the shadow of deportation in the event they try to access support.
We have already seen that many illegal immigrants have health problems. Most, at least at first, are likely to find work that is physically onerous and sometimes dangerous. Nevertheless they rarely have insurance and have limited access to public health care. While Immigration and Customs have confirmed that information used to apply for health coverage (Medicaid or private) will not be used against them for immigration purposes many people remain skeptical and suspicious.
5. Weak Border Security Encourages Unscrupulous People Trafficking Putting Lives At Risk
For many people, a life in the United States is a life-long dream, just as it was for the ancestors of most modern American citizens. Should we deny them the opportunities our grandparents and great-grandparents had? It sounds simple when put like that but the truth is that a weak border does not encourage beneficial immigration. We have already seen (above) that a weak border allows criminals to enter the US, unfortunately it also allows criminals to prosper on the backs of the desperate.
People will always take risks but the weaker the border the less of a risk a chancy border run will seem to be. Trafficking across the border is big business, often controlled by drug cartels who find it either a lucrative side business or a good way to diversify their import methods. Parents who want their children to have a better life will surrender them to people smugglers (called coyotes) who will take the child across the border. The crossing is dangerous and can often involve trips through the desert without adequate hydration or protection. The trip typically costs about $5,000, with families being forced to pay more for the release of the child at the destination. If the parents cannot make the payment the child might be used as a slave laborer or, in some cases, in the sex trade. Some children are simply dumped, vulnerable and scared, and left to fend for themselves. The consequences can be deadly. The longer our borders are seen as a soft target for people smuggling the longer such awful trade will continue.
4. Weak Border Security Threatens The Pay Check Of Ordinary Americans
Many proponents of immigration point to a problem of a labor shortage in the USA. Immigrants, both legal and illegal are typically willing to work longer hours for less pay and fewer benefits than American citizens. While this might sound like a benefit for owners of small businesses who would otherwise be unable to find employees it causes significant problems to ordinary Americans.
Since 2000 American citizens have accounted for 2/3s of the increase in the working age population but by 2014 fewer natural born citizens had employment than in 2000. Meanwhile 5.7 million more immigrants were employed than in 2000. Effectively all the net gain in employment that has been advertised as taking place between 2000 and 2014 has gone to foreigners (both legal and illegal). This puts the lie to the labor shortage claim, indeed there is an ever increasing pool of low qualified native born workers, particularly African-American citizens who are either squeezed out of the employment market or whose salaries are suppressed by immigration.
3. Weak Border Security Puts A Strain On Public Resources And Amenities
We have already acknowledged that many people who come to the US illegally are trying to make a better life for themselves and many of these people are admirable and should not be demonized or lumped together with the criminal elements (see above) that exploit our weak borders. Nevertheless we should acknowledge that no matter how hard working they are or how well intentioned, immigrants will use resources, paid for by American taxpayers. In Texas and California (two of the states with the highest levels of immigration) over 55% of illegal immigrant families are beneficiaries of welfare. Illegal children still have to be educated and we are morally obliged to provide medical services to people who need them (what kind of person turns a woman in labor or a sick child away from a hospital). Public service budgets are already overstretched and are not designed to meet the needs of this extra population. Securing our borders will help slow and then prevent the increased pressure on our already overstretched services.
2. Weak Border Security Threatens American Culture
It is deeply unfashionable to claim that immigration is a threat to our culture, as, after all, almost all American families were immigrants once. Typically people who come to a country will integrate into society over time so worries about damaging our culture are probably overstated. Whether or not they are right to be concerned it is, nevertheless, a worry that is felt by 70% of American citizens. While the well-meaning liberal left levy charges of racism and xenophobia at those who raise this concern. It is never wise for politicians to ignore something that is of grave concern to such large swathes of the electorate as it results in a backlash. It can be argued that Obama’s open approach to immigration is directly responsible for the rhetoric of Trump!
Instead of dismissing and minimizing the concerns of ordinary people who feel threatened we should instead look to reassure them that there is no need to worry. The best way to do this is to improve our border security to ensure that only those people who have been through the rigorous process of applying for an appropriate visa are entitled to come to our country.
1. Weak Border Security Encourages And Abets Terrorism
America is at war! Since 9/11 we have known that our culture and way of life is inimical to Muslim Fundamentalists. We acknowledge that those who seek to cause us harm are only a small percentage of the global Muslim population and therefore we do not agree with Mr Trump’s call to place a ban on all Muslims coming to America, we do believe that we should guard our borders more carefully to protect from the threats we now face. Weak (non-existent) borders in Europe have led to terrorists being able to travel freely between Paris and Brussels and indeed gave them the chance to travel anywhere within Europe with minimal checks. It is notable that, given the threat of terrorism and the Syrian migrant crisis, that European countries are once again seeking to strengthen their borders.
We place significant emphasis on airport security, not surprising given the events of 9/11, however, those on watch lists are unlikely to choose to enter the country that way when easier ones are available. We have already seen (above) that the Canadian border is not well protected. Given that there have been recent terrorist incidents on Canadian soil we should be very concerned to strengthen protection and increase co-operation with the Canadian border agents.
Just when you thought that this issue could not be any more polarized, Donald Trump came on the scene bringing with him the money and the presence to articulate beliefs that resonate with the ordinary working class American; beliefs that other politicians might shy away from (even if they do hold them). Recent debates have seen him calling for a ‘wall’ along the entire Mexican border and a ban on all foreign Muslims entering the US. While these policies may tend towards both polemic and the extreme, there are many people who support them.
Donald Trump’s views have found favor with many ordinary Americans precisely because this is an issue that is important to them. They worry that their jobs will be put under threat, their safety will be compromised and their children’s access to education and medical services impacted. We do not necessarily need a wall and we do not necessarily need to place people on a ‘no fly’ list simply because of their religion (both of which evoke unpleasant parallels with some of the worst policies of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia). Better border security will lead to a safer, more secure America and will make it harder for the type of scum who make their money people and drug smuggling find it more difficult to ply their despicable trade. Win Win!