Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Sad Truth About Immigration and the Sequester

As Fox News reported, a few hundred illegal immigrant detainees were released by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which probably led to the early "retirement" of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations Director Gary Mead. ICE plans to let loose between 5,000 and 10,000 additional illegal immigrants to meet the terms of the sequester. Confirming the story this week was The Washington Examiner.

But don't worry: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has informed us that the illegals being released are "very low-level, low-risk detainees.” According to this New York Times profile, that can also be defined as illegals with convictions for “simple assault, simple battery, and child abuse." Are you comforted yet?

I have studied our porous Southern border closely. In 2006, I produced the award-winning documentary Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration. Since that time, the situation and the drain on our social services and entitlement programs have become even more dire.

With President Obama rushing to give every illegal immigrant a pathway to citizenship, what he and our leaders in Congress should do is tell the truth about the state of the fence at our southern border and asking: Why hasn't the border fence been built? 

To get that answer, we must look back to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. While it authorized the construction of hundreds of miles of "at least two layers of reinforced fencing," the law was subsequently amended heavily by then-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and others who gave DHS bureaucrats the ability to use less secure fencing at their discretion.

As Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama pointed out during a February 13 Judiciary Committee hearing, with more than $600 million in appropriations, and out of the 700 miles of fence we were promised, only 36 miles of doubled-layered fence actually exist. The rest of the fencing consists of single-layer fence or just small "vehicle barriers" designed to stop cars, which any pedestrian could easily hop over. This is an outrage and one of the reasons Washington politicians are so unpopular.

Now, while the border fence construction has essentially stopped, Mexican cartels continue to smuggle weapons, drugs, and illegals into our country who are more likely to commit crimes and fill our prisons. The United State Attorney General's office has released statistical reports showing crime rates along the southern border is increasing, with drug smuggling posing a serious organized crime threat for the country. And throughout the border, desperate Southern states have erected signs warning citizens to avoid certain federal lands because of the high levels of human and drug trafficking.

Before Congress discusses comprehensive immigration reform, we must enforce the laws on our books, finish building a legitimate and effective fence for the 21st century, and further secure our border with boots on the ground. With enemies throughout the world who do not wear uniforms, our liberty can only be secure if we know exactly who is coming into the country. If we are a nation of laws, we cannot reward lawbreakers while punishing those who wait in line to find a better life. And if we are to cut the size of government while reducing the burden placed on law enforcement and social services, conservatives must unite and finally get our border secured first.