|Failure to Defend the Border Abandons American Citizens|
By Ashton Ellis
Tuesday, April 19 2011
Lost amid the legal wrangling over whether states like Arizona have the constitutional right to enforce federal immigration laws is a far simpler question: Is the United States government’s refusal to secure the border an abandonment of American citizens?
For those living on the nation’s edge, reality is inescapable.
In testimony to Congress on April 15th, Arizona rancher Jim Chilton recounted the toll paid by American citizens living in the “no man’s land” between the border and enforcement.
“The Border Patrol reported to the Government Accountability Office that by October 2010 it had control of 873 miles of the nearly 2,000 miles of the Southwest border, or 44%. This is not an acceptable situation for those of us who live along the other thousand-plus miles, nor is it a reassuring report when one considers that terrorists and criminals both have enormous areas through which they can pass.”
Chilton went on to describe how Mexican drug traffickers have twice broken into his home on their way back from drop-offs. A neighbor has been burglarized ten times. A few years prior, Chilton and others were informed that seven backpacks were found with Yemeni passports a few miles from his house.
It’s safe to say that neither the drug traffickers nor the intruders carrying passports from an al-Qaeda stronghold fit the profile of Mexican migrants looking for work.
Yet, according to Chilton, it remains official Border Patrol policy to let illegal aliens travel between 20 and 70 miles into American territory before attempting to make contact. For perspective, the upper range makes Tucson, AZ, America’s new southern border.
What about those like Chilton who are left to defend America’s ‘no man’s land’ ceded by the federal government?
Armed with the latest versions of binoculars, motion sensors and GPS devices, drug cartels can easily pinpoint Border Patrol movements and maneuver smugglers around them.
Of course, that kind of perpetual monitoring extends to locals like Chilton as well.
Now, every member of Chilton’s U.S.-based ranch operation keeps a firearm within reach to protect from foreign nationals trespassing with impunity.
Members of Congress are finally showing signs that securing the border is a predicate to discussing amnesty for illegal immigrants.
In an April 13th press release, Arizona Republican Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain acknowledged that while “over half a million illegal immigrants are apprehended border-wide each year,” conservative estimates place the total number of illegal border crossings to at least one million per annum. To plug the leak, Kyl and McCain want to fund more Border Patrol agents and National Guardsmen.
Utah Republican Representative Rob Bishop points to another problem: environmental regulations that slow down the Border Patrol, but not illegal immigrants.
Because much of the southwestern border is covered by various national park and environmental designations, enforcement agencies like the Border Patrol must conduct Environmental Impact Studies before beginning operations. Amazingly, national security grounds are not sufficient to overcome the environmental criteria set forth in the regulations.
Stymied by eco-bureaucrats, Border Patrol agents – and citizens like Chilton – must watch helplessly as drug traffickers and terrorists roll into America on a green carpet.
Seven times in his testimony, Chilton demanded a simple commitment from Congress: Control the Border at the Border.
Whatever one thinks about the particulars in the immigration enforcement approach adopted by Arizona and seconded by Georgia and other states, one truth is undeniable. Failure to secure the border will only exacerbate tensions in American communities abandoned by the federal government.
The real question confronting policymakers isn’t whether to secure the border – it’s whether a nation can claim sovereignty over land it no longer defends.
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