Photo: Border Security
On Tuesday, the Immigration Policy Center hosted a briefing on rethinking border security. The Senate immigration proposal from the “Gang of 8”conditions legalization on meeting a series of border benchmarks. And while the President’s outline does not tie border enforcement to legalization as a precondition, it does call for an emphasis on expanded border control. However, what does it mean to have control of the border? Can we measure border safety and national security solely through the number of Border Patrol agents in place or the use of more sophisticated technology? As immigration experts explained during the briefing, border security is more than an immigration issue because true border safety requires a different mindset and more targeted objectives that have little to do with unauthorized immigration.
Former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard explained that connecting legalization with border security is problematic because “we’ve never defined what border security means.” Building a fence along the border, for example, would be a “12th century solution to a 21st century problem.” Goddard suggested a new way of thinking about border security by focusing less on unauthorized immigrants and more on the dangerous cartels that are smuggling drugs and migrants into the country, and money and guns back out.
David Shirk, an associate professor and director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, explained that people continue to cross the border because they have no way to enter legally. “Effectively, there is no legitimate means for them to achieve a visa in a timely way so they can work or join their families,” Shirk said. “There are more people who want to come here and more people who want to hire workers who come here than our visa system allows.” Organized crime groups take advantage of the situation.