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Column 050514 Brewer

Monday, May 5, 2014

U.S. Border Security Demands Real and Sensible Priorities

By Jerry Brewer

The geographically complex border between the U.S. and Mexico continues to befuddle lawmakers as to a sensible set of priorities. The U.S. line in the sand with Mexico is slightly less than 2,000 miles, but of course there are also thousands of miles of coastal points of entry in the nation, as well as air space — and there is the northern border with Canada.

However, one thing that is vociferously clear is that although the challenges ahead appear to overwhelm the imagination, border security must remain this nation’s top priority.

Much more than perfunctory political diatribes must be demanded, and even some effective strategic and proactive measures must be recognized and deployed as to secure at least some short-term solutions as an early start on potential long-term solutions. Concerned, responsive and responsible efforts in further seeking solutions to a complex quagmire of frustration and mixed emotions is critically necessary.

The previously proposed billions of dollars, and at least 700 miles of fence and walls, were never a panacea for total border control and security. It will always remain a somewhat porous and targeted entry point for contraband and illegal activities in order to circumvent the rule of law, while posing a significant threat to a sovereign nation’s defenses by enemies wishing to do harm. This virtually like any nation’s borders.

It can be said that all rests on this nation’s priorities regarding the overall problem of border security and the protection of life and property of U.S. citizens. The coherent and objective evaluation of immediate and real needs in border security must be balanced by whether we can patrol and police the border adequately, with reasonable and strategic resource allocation and effective leadership, management, and oversight. 

No one should be naïve enough to believe that we need to simply walk away or abandon the illegal immigration problem either.  In fact, we must diligently work to control “manageable sectors” of the border with Mexico.  Especially those areas competently identified as significant entry or transient locations.  We must also keep in perspective that we are seeking to contain illegal entry, and not to close the door to “legal” migration.

Local and state police budgets are thin, and workloads are expanding significantly.  To attempt reasonable and effective strategies against a myriad of criminal offenses and interdiction under tight financial constraints and mounting pressures to ensure safety, we must intricately define the real battlefield impacting those organizations.

The border is not safe as many government officials tend to rationalize. Touting the “record levels” of border enforcement in arrests/apprehensions of illegals, as well as the numbers of Border Patrol and ICE agents assigned to border areas, does not truly define border security.

Many politicians appear all too often to be overly concerned with attempts to define the problems and the enemy, rather than strategically engaging against them. Unconventional transnational criminals and enemies of the state, who do not — and will not — hesitate to confront police and other government officials, demand a modern day enforcement model of tactical strategies, laws, containment, and coordinated fluid interdiction. 

The complex border security issues must not bring law enforcement and citizens to their knees.  Practical solutions, including strategic fiscal strategies, demand an intense and acute focus. We truly need a rational and logical consensus that places funding in those places where the results are proactive.

While world crises and other issues seemingly keep our nation’s leaders focused elsewhere, many U.S. border residents and ranchers are clearly within the category of losing faith, and their frustrations are graphically real and deadly. James K. Chilton, the head of the Southern Arizona Cattlemen’s Protective Association, reported in late April that, “4,000 migrants had crossed his ranch so far this year” (McClatchy Foreign Staff, April 30, 2014). Too, he said thousands of undocumented migrants have crossed his property, “doing untold damage.” In further frustration, some ranchers even accuse enforcement officials of damaging their property in routine efforts of patrol.

For a decade or more, paramilitary enforcers have at times fired on U.S. Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement officials along the border with Mexico. Police officials in Texas have reported paramilitary gunmen escorting ground-based drug deliveries, as ranchers in Arizona have witnessed helicopters and aircraft landing and/or dropping drug shipments on their land.

Furthermore, there is little doubt that the many well-designed tunnels under the border are for not only the trafficking of drugs into the U.S., but too they are effectively used for the secure smuggling of weapons, and part of an approximate US$80 billion in currency a year, out of the U.S. As well, many bundles of drugs and/or other contraband are simply catapulted over fences and obstacles.

Prioritizing security and enforcement efforts for the U.S. border should be defined by the true demands, dangers and risks. Threats made clear, for example, by violent actions in Nuevo Laredo in 2005 and 2008, when Mexican police raids led to seizures of 540 rifles (including 288 assault rifles and several .50-caliber weapons), 287 hand grenades, two M72 LAW anti-tank weapons, 500,000 rounds of ammunition, 67 ballistic vests, and 14 sticks of dynamite.


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

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