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Column 062413 Brewer

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reality Checks, Security and the USA-Mexico-Canada Borders

By Jerry Brewer

Decades of waffling, empty lip service and knee-jerk reactions to immigration and border security in the U.S. has now brought perhaps an unfocused urgency to fix with what may be insurmountable expectations. 

Untangling that complicated web of chaos alone is a Pandora’s Box that may pose far more questions than answers.

The true complexities of border security and immigration issues necessitate the unpleasant task of seeing the biases and misperceptions of many, contrasting with a perceived rationale of those that believe there are fundamental rights and order that surpass the rule of law.

We know in fact that there are an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally. We know that there are vast numbers of Mexican and Central American violent gang members living throughout the U.S. And we know that other transnational organized criminals have gone beyond just supplying an estimated US$60 billion drug habit to our nation. And we don’t seem to be overly concerned that our borders are breached the other way, going south into Mexico, with massive amounts of U.S. dollars, and often, guns and other weapons.

A serious moral and intellectual impetus is required to also see the irony when those same organized criminals throughout Latin America echo the fear of potential extradition to the U.S. when captured for their crimes. This real threat to these insurgents, after decades of complacency, has bred a reactive mentality that is similar to a cornered rat.

The immigration issue in the United States may be growing disproportionately to the available facts.  It has indeed become the current U.S. political football.  Many split decisively on the single word -- threat.  Partisan U.S. politicians on both sides of the two largest political parties are raising their voices vociferously, debating the nation’s priorities.

Transference comes to mind as one debates the scale that leads to the tipping of public opinion.  It is much easier to repudiate war with all its tragedy.  The real issues are truly in the clarity of one’s priorities.

Illegal immigration is a serious issue.  Legal migration is not.  The issue of immigration, in truth, is that the incentives are far too great to ever totally control or eradicate the flow of undocumented immigrants fleeing violence, death, extortion, kidnapping, and constant threats, or simply seeking a better future for their families.

With a myriad of reasons, and articulated and demonstrated rationale, for illegally crossing the U.S. border, one major hurdle for U.S. lawmakers will be in addressing the status of millions of immigrants already residing in the United States.

The complex border security problem requires a commonsense approach, devoid of prejudices, misinformation and partisan politics.  However, the rule of law and enforcement must be firm.

A concerned nation will unite to a cause that is real and demands action. Safeguarding our nation's borders is our government's fundamental and essential responsibility. Priorities must be assigned, a strategic plan designed and established, and the appropriate forces and resources marshaled and deployed to action in a timely manner, monitored, effectively coordinated for maximum efficiency, as well as its cost-effectiveness.  There must be quality-control processes in place to govern and confront problems through coordinated team efforts.

While Mexico’s border with the U.S. is slightly less than 2,000 miles, the U.S.-Canadian boundary of 9,600 land and sea miles is seen as "the most open free trade border in the world." Yet the stark reality is that homeland security means requisite protection and interdiction all along both the northern and southern borders. And the U.S. military role and support in homeland security is intently noted and needed.

Lawmakers are currently calling for a “military-style surge to secure the leaky U.S.-Mexican border.” They are wanting to double the size of the Border Patrol with 20,000 more agents. As in local and state policing, where  police budgets are thin and workloads are expanding significantly, it is not always how many officers you have -- but important as to how those officers are deployed, what they actually do, and the manner in which they perform.  It is imperative that this mass spending for more agents is not more excessive waste with misguided strategies.

We must diligently work to control “manageable sectors” of the Mexican border, especially those areas competently identified as significant entry or transient locations. Realists on the border know that it represents much more than just a dividing line between two nations; nor is it a boundary that can be simply remedied with billions of dollars of walls and fences and be done with it.  

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Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation firm headquartered in northern Virginia.  His website is located at www.cjiausa.org.


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