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?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.
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.
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