Meeting a Security Milestone - So?
It happened on December 6th. One of President Bush's objectives for border security was met when the total numbers of Border Patrol Agents surpassed 18,000. Yes, it is a significant number, yet, while it is slightly short of the goal, it does reflect a 47% increase in force. There are now over 800 of the Border agents are in Texas alone, but they have not prevented the spread of violence across the border. The results have already been shown a change in arrests of illegal immigrants attempting to enter the country.
Still, important and serious questions are raised as to whether manpower on the border with Mexico is the only alternative, and whether by focusing on the Mexican border, we are left vulnerable on a largely unprotected border with Canada, where with far fewer agents (now numbering 190 at the Blaine Washington U.S.-Canadian border checkpoint), the Border Patrol has resorted to setting up road blocks and questioning passengers about citizenship. The results of these roadblocks are being questioned, of course, by the ACLU, that wonders their Constitutionality.
Since the end of February, there have been 53 roadblocks set up at the Anacortes ferry terminal, state Route 20 near Newhalem and U.S. 101 on the Olympic Peninsula. Agents have arrested 81 illegal immigrants and turned 19 people over to other agencies for state crimes. They did this by stopping 24,524 vehicles and checking 41,912 people in those vehicles, records show.
Increasing the Border Patrol headcount alone is not the solution to protecting U.S. citizens from terrorists entering the country along with the continuing flood of illegal workers. There is some validity to the argument that a fence along the border is not the generally practical solution either. However, those who argue for open borders ignore the real danger that the World presents to a free society as we have here in the United States. Lacking is a border security solution that protects even the unguarded parts of our borders and a comprehensive immigration policy reform that avoids turning a blind-eye to people who have broken our sovereign laws.
Further, outgoing Secretary of Homeland Security Chertoff is quoted in a "leaked" For Official Use Only report that the U.S. faces significant threats over the next five years. Related to this is the speech Chertoff gave last week at Georgetown University. Excerpted from the FOUO report:
Terrorists will continue to try to evade U.S. border security measures and place operatives inside the mainland to carry out attacks, the 38-page assessment said. It also said that they may pose as refugees or asylum seekers or try to exploit foreign travel channels such as the visa waiver program, which allows citizens of 34 countries to enter the U.S. without visas.
It is possible that the stark reality is that many Americans see increased security measures, now 7 ½ years after the tragedy of September 11, 2001 as impositions. We haven't seen a successful or publicized terrorist attack in the U.S. We've only heard of the hidden cells. All too many Americans have grown complacent, maybe because, as before September 11th, we only see the violence and bloody results of terrorism in Mumbai and in Israel and other places where security measures have not worked as well as they have here. And yet, the notable blending of youth gang violence with the horrendous viciousness of the Mexican drug cartels serves as "fair warning" of domestic issues and "homegrown" terrorism. Solving the border security and immigration policy issues will fall to the next Adminstration. Our complacency could well be our undoing, despite contrary arguments.