This summer, the issue of immigration exploded across televisions around the nation. More than 50,000 children had been displaced from their families, attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in pursuit of a better life. Congressional Democrats and Republicans pleaded for comprehensive immigration reform.
Months later, not only are we no closer to a solution, but we’re told the issue has been shelved until after the midterm elections. I guess it wasn’t that important of an issue after all, if it could wait and wait, and then wait some more. But I won’t address the immigration debate; you’ve got Rachel Maddow or Bill O’Reilly to give you polarized coverage of that and to inform you of the proper solution.
What I’m going to do is knock you over the head and tell you that you’re a fool, because you’re letting Republicans and Democrats alike bundle immigration reform with border control. You’re letting your representatives package two issues and make them seem like one.
The United States has two enormous land borders, one with Canada and the other with Mexico. The U.S.-Canada border is a testament to our longstanding relations with our northern brothers (never mind the War of 1812); it is the longest border in the world that remains mostly open. That’s not to say there aren’t border crossings and checkpoints, but contrast the U.S.-Canada border with that of, say, India and China, and you’ll see what I mean.
The U.S.-Mexico border is a different story entirely. With myriad fences, drones and sensors, it is what everyone refers to when arguing about our “porous border.” The U.S.-Mexico border is also the place where 50,000 immigrants crossed into our country this year alone.
Whatever your opinion on immigration (send them back, keep them, make them citizens, give them green cards, imprison them, you name it), the border needs to be secured.
If 50,000 people this year can cross, what is stopping terrorists from sneaking through? A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so what good are our intense airport security measures if a sinister-minded group can sneak into the United States through Mexico after traversing through the unstable governments in Central America?
Terrorists aren’t rational actors. They’re not people you can or should reason with. By leaving the metaphorical back door open, we are not doing everything we can to protect against a future 9/11.
But what is the solution? Do we simply build a thousand or so miles of wall and fence, turning the border into a Korean-esque DMZ (demilitarized zone)? No, because that will only create more problems. What we need to do is fund the Border Patrol to a level that allows them to actually do the job their mandate calls for.
Another solution would be deploying the National Guard to the border on a rotational basis. The federal military – Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines – are barred from acting in a police capacity due to the Posse Comitatus Act.
However, the National Guard is not restricted in such a manner. In fact, the National Guard exists to guard the nation and the states. Currently, the National Guard has just shy of 500,000 members; let’s put them to work while we develop technological means to secure the border and train more Border Patrol agents. Let’s prevent another completely avoidable tragedy and plug a very dangerous hole.
Whatever your stance on the immigration issue, let’s work together toward securing the border.
Will Schaub is a senior majoring in political science and English. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured photo of a male climbing the border fence in Texas uploaded by Nofx221984 to Wikimedia Commons.