May 5, 2014
U.S. Border Security Demands Real and Sensible Priorities
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.
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.
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 www.cjiausa.org.