Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fact-Based Immigration Policy, Cont'd

In the first part of this series, I argued that the United States should increase border security (under caveats which I will explain later), but not because we have a crime problem in the border states. Empirical evidence shows the exact opposite. Of course, the crime myth is not the only one that prevails in the American psyche.

Myth #2: The United States government has done nothing to stop illegal immigration. 

As with the crime claim, this myth is very easily shown to be false. According to the Arizona Daily Star,
Has the federal government really done nothing to secure the border?

Answer: You can question the effectiveness of the billions spent, but there's no denying the massive buildup of border enforcement over the last five to 10 years:

• The budget for Customs and Border Protection - the Department of Homeland Security agency responsible for border security - soared to $11.4 billion in fiscal 2010, up 90 percent from $6 billion in fiscal year 2004. That's nearly twice the growth of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget, which increased 54 percent to $5.7 billion in fiscal 2010, up from $3.7 billion in 2004. ICE is responsible for immigration enforcement at worksites and across the interior of the country.

• The number of Border Patrol agents on the U.S.-Mexico border has increased to 17,500, up from 9,700 in 2004. The Tucson Sector, which stretches from New Mexico to Yuma County, now has 3,300 agents, up from 2,100 in 2004 and 1,500 in 2000.

• The miles of fencing along the border have grown exponentially. There are now 350 miles of pedestrian fence and 299 miles of vehicle barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, for a total of 649 miles of barriers. That's up from 143 miles of barriers in 2006.

The Tucson Sector has 71 miles of pedestrian fences and 139 miles of vehicle barriers. In 2000, it had 11 miles of pedestrian fences and two miles of vehicle barriers.

Pedestrian fences are 12- to 18-foot-high barriers designed to stop, or at least slow down, people. Vehicle barriers are waist- to chest-high and are designed to stop cars.

• The agency has spent more than $1 billion since 2006 developing the SBInet "virtual fence," which tracks movement using a network of towers mounted with cameras, sensors and radar. But the program has been plagued by delays and glitches.

• In the past five years, the feds have twice sent the National Guard to the border to assist the Border Patrol. In Operation Jump Start, from 2006 to 2008, the government spent $1.2 billion to send 6,000 National Guard troops. In the current Operation Copper Cactus, the government is spending $135 million to send 1,200 troops.

• Homeland Security has devoted $225 million to border law enforcement agencies through Operation Stonegarden, including about $51 million to Arizona agencies. The program gives agencies money to pay officers who work overtime shifts aimed at securing the border. The money also buys four-wheel-drive trucks, radios and night-vision goggles.
What about deportations? Well, President Obama is breaking records. He has deported nearly 800,000 immigrants since taking office, which happens to be the highest number of deportations in any given two years in American history. The increased number of deportations has led to higher backlogs of immigration cases. In some areas of the countries, immigrants wait nearly 11 months before their case is settled. The $5.7 billion budget that ICE enjoyed in fiscal year 2010 simply has not been sufficient for the agency to keep up with the such high levels in deportations.

Should conservatives argue for increasing the budgets of Customs and Border Protection and ICE? Sure, I believe that it is necessary. But only under two caveats. First, cuts must be taken out of other areas of the government. May I suggest the Department of Defense? It would be the easiest place to find excess funds and it could also gain support from the Democrats. Regardless, conservatives must vote against any increase in government spending unless it is paid for by decreases in other agencies.

Second, and most importantly, more immigration enforcement must come with comprehensive immigration reform. For lack of a better term and at risk of labeling immigrants as a bunch of donkeys, the United States government needs a carrots and stick approach: more enforcement and a system and laws that provide immigrants with a legitimate chance of entering the country legally.

More to come...

Cross posted at The Cross Culturalist


illinoisguy said...

If we are doing such a good job of 'deporting', why is it that the illegals can do very public things like getting drivers licenses, registering for college, etc.? It seems to me as if we have more or less a 'don't ask don't tell' policy.

phil said...

It seems that the only thing Mexican's will accept is that we allow ANYONE to come and go into this country that wants to. THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE!

Pablo said...


I am not sure about that. I need to do some research on that. I am sure that there is more that the government can do to crack down on drivers licenses and such.

Pablo said...


Do you have a comment about the actual post?

phil said...



Do you have a response to my comment?

Anonymous said...

I agree with phil.

I don't believe anything short of open borders will satisfy the flow of illegals. If you sett a particular number of entry visas, they'll always be more who feel they want to come here as well.

It's an invasion, pure and simple. And should be treated as such.



Pablo said...

Phil and Zeke,

The amount of immigrants coming to the United States is market driven. When there are jobs, they come. When there are no jobs, they don't come. That is why in the last two years the number of illegal immigrants entering the country has decreased.

Our immigration policies ought to be market driven as well. For the past decade they have not, which is why we have so many illegal immigrants.

Republicans need to lead the charge on responsible, fact-driven policy prescriptions. Just saying that it is an invasion is not good enough. We need to understand the problem and how to address it.

Anonymous said...

"The amount of immigrants coming to the United States is market driven. When there are jobs, they come. When there are no jobs, they don't come. That is why in the last two years the number of illegal immigrants entering the country has decreased." Bingo! This is essentially true. There are various reasons why people come to America, but in the end people go where the jobs are (or at least come away where they are not.)

Being an Immigrant, I am thankful to be an American, and all the paperwork, time and cost were worth it. While things are overall in my homeland now, I am still glad that I am here and grateful to be welcome here and I enjoy my freedoms.

I for one like the region in the country where I am in even though there might be better opportunities elsewhere, but I would further argue that a variety of free market factor are important to where certain immigrants settle within the United States.

Nevertheless, I have no trouble with Americans setting some basic rules as to who gets in. I am of course Pro-Immigration, but it should be done in an orderly legal fashion.

While I often disagree with you Pablo, I appreciate the fact that you bring up an issue that I ironically think little about. Thanks for doing research and bringing up food for thought.