Sunday, November 6, 2011
America’s Illegal Immigration Debate Misses the Mark
by S. Paul Forrest
No Republican campaign speech ever goes on for long without mention of illegal immigration and the desire to quell it. Though the debate itself invokes a clear and present problem, the persistent use of it as a political jumping point without consideration or offering of reasoned solutions, continues to cloud the reality of its underreported dark side. From drugs to human trafficking, the lax state of our border security reflected in our inability to control illegal immigration, has taken a great toll on this nation. Secure borders are more than just keeping desperate, freedom seeking people out of the country but one would be hard pressed to hear the reality of the problem on the stage of the ongoing political circus featuring so many aspiring performers.
As the debate of illegal immigration rages on, many States have enacted anti-immigration policy mandates focusing on preventing people from living in this nation without documentation. Some of these mandates suggest that all those who are here illegally, despite their former domestic situations they suffered for in their countries of origin or their current productivity levels in this one, should be deported; bar none. From
Arizona to the
Carolinas, many citizens are voicing concern for
the by product of routing out those here illegally: Racial and
cultural profiling. Even though some here illegally are in fact, blights on
their communities, many are positive additions to this great nation much like
their “legal” counterparts on both accounts.
This argument which seems to contradict The New Colossus poem etched upon our Nation’s iconographic Statue of Liberty, stems from claims that illegal immigrants take up too much space on the rosters of social assistance and when considered in combination with the crime incurred by them, has resulted in both our economic and judicial systems becoming overburdened and unsustainable. Supporting this claim, many incarceration statistics point to a larger level of crime and gang membership among this immigrant class which has done nothing to discredit but rather, justify the argument against illegal immigration into this nation. What these debates should produce though, instead of merely helping to demonize an entire people, is making clear that when jobs are few, children are hungry and pay rates are as low as they are for most of these immigrants; crime is a natural affectation.
Many have used the preceding statistics to justify immigration reform but like Andy Warhol’s question of “Does art imitate life or does life imitate art?”; do these individuals actually commit more crime per capita or does racial profiling and harsher judgment of them induce more arrests and convictions? When the police hawk and harass these people, as in the always patrolled ghettos across this nation, arrests will innately become more numerous especially considering the ever growing laws in this nation making even common actions “illegal”. If the “forces that be” want to harass and arrest these people along their determined course to demonize them, they certainly have the judiciary on their side.
It may come as a shock to some to learn that our border gaps present a greater threat to this nation than people entering our nation illegally. When looking at the bigger picture of border security or lack thereof, illegal immigration represents the least of our worries. Off the political talking point filled stage, the all but ignored subject of illegal drugs entering this nation over (or under) the border, through our seaports and airports adds precipitously to our nation’s troubles. Drug use and the associated obsession by addicts to get a fix or acting outside of their natural selves while on them, has created an entire subculture of “criminals”. Maybe if this country secured its borders and ports and stopped illegal drugs from entering, there would be fewer crimes within the spectrum of our racial and culturally diverse social palette thereby alleviating 60% of all crimes committed by residents; illegal or not.
Surprisingly, in the wake of 9/11, drugs arrests and drug use has not waned. The
gave an assessment in its National Drug Threat
Assessment of 2010 that reported the availability of illicit drugs was on
the rise in the This statistic stands in spite of the
exponential growth of Southwestern border patrol and drug enforcement agency
strengthening. Rather than blaming
immigration policy, the quest for solutions to this epidemic should first begin
with an examination of our own culture and how drugs are so easily brought in
and distributed in this nation. There
are many reasons both social and economic for why this demand exists but the
end user would not exist if there was no supply. U.S.
According to the Almanac of Policy Issues, “The illegal drug market in the
is one of the most profitable in the world. As such, it attracts the most
ruthless, sophisticated, and aggressive drug traffickers. Drug law enforcement
agencies face an enormous challenge in protecting the country's borders. Each
year, according to the U.S. Customs Service, 60 million people enter the United States
on more than 675,000 commercial and private flights. Another 6 million come by
sea and 370 million by land. In addition, 116 million vehicles cross the land
borders with United States Canada and . More
than 90,000 merchant and passenger ships dock at Mexico ports. These ships carry more
than 9 million shipping containers and 400 million tons of cargo. Another
157,000 smaller vessels visit our many coastal towns. Amid this voluminous
trade, drug traffickers conceal cocaine, heroin, marijuana, MDMA, and methamphetamine
shipments for distribution in U.S.
neighborhoods.” Instead of addressing this blight on our nation though,
politicians are satisfied to merely blame the immigrants for the problems
instead of addressing the reality of the problem. U.S.
Even with this testament to the seemingly futile efforts of our domestic drug control, the issue of illegal immigration has become the iconographic talking point of our Nation’s border security issue and by proxy, one of our economic stress points. Instead of concentrating on creating jobs and solving our socio-economic woes through realistic incentives, politicians seem to believe that rhetoric without reality will convince us all to vote them into office. As an example of this, Herman Cain, an aspiring presidential candidate best known for pizza commercials and catchy slogans, has suggested that an electrified fence should be erected to control the Mexican-American border; truly an idea vacant of any realism. A fence has proven to only reroute the imports.
Across the southwest, 149 tunnels have been shut down since 1990; 55 of them in or intended for
Joe Garcia, deputy special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security
Investigations. What is so very
disturbing is how the statistics for drug trafficking are self-perpetuating. Statistics from the U.S.
Department of Justice - National Drug Intelligence Center show that
the largest number of seizures have occurred on the border such as Mexico so
from this, they invest more money to control that point of entry while our
seaports and airfields go largely unchecked.
Drugs represent an American pandemic but there is an even more insidious
import which should be discussed on a national level: Human trafficking. California
Largely under reported and considered taboo on the election circuit and within the newsrooms of popular media sources, human trafficking remains a dark evil within our nation. Maybe it is because most candidates and “news” stations realize American voters do not want to deal with reality or maybe they just don’t realize or want to recognize it exists. In a series of articles titled, “Human Trafficking in America”, Laura Bauer paints a landscape of such despair stemming from human trafficking as to turn your mind away from the fantasy of American media toward an issue that should be at the forefront of the political stage.
Even after our nation did recognize this social disease in 1994 and then in 2000, enacted the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, the effort did little to actually quell it. As Bauer further points out, “
declared war on human trafficking nearly a decade ago. With a new law and much
fanfare, the government pledged to end such human rights abuses at home and
prodded the rest of the world to follow its example. But the America United States is failing to find and help tens
of thousands of human trafficking victims in .” America
According to the US Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report 2006, 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the
states; “The U.S. Department of State began monitoring trafficking in persons
in 1994, when the issue began to be covered in the Department’s Annual Country
Reports on Human Rights Practices. Originally, coverage focused on trafficking
of women and girls for sexual purposes. The report coverage has broadened over
the years, and U.S. embassies worldwide now routinely monitor and report on
cases of trafficking in men, women, and children for all forms of forced labor,
including agriculture, domestic service, construction work, and sweatshops, as
well as trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.” U.S.
Likewise, the U.S. Department of Education has stated that “trafficking can involve school-age children—particularly those not living with their parents—who are vulnerable to coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation (i.e., prostitution). Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims. Those who recruit minors into prostitution violate federal anti-trafficking laws, even if there is no coercion or movement across state lines. The children at risk are not just high school students—studies demonstrate that pimps prey on victims as young as 12. Traffickers have been reported targeting their minor victims through telephone chat-lines, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs.” Surely, this bit of information should be mentioned by our Presidential candidates but to date, it has not surfaced in the debates.
To combat these nefarious problems, border security should be coming to the forefront.
has taken steps to this
affect. With a great deal of money allocated through the Patriot Act, border
patrols have increased exponentially from 4,139 in 1992 to 20,558 in 2010. The bulk of this effort has been directed
toward the Mexican-American border. In
2010, the number
of border patrol agents in the Southwest was 17,535. The coastal patrol numbered; a mere 246. As
is typical of this nation, our defenses have been allocated
in such a disproportionate manner, our coastline and ports are all but
unprotected. To put this into
perspective, our Southwest border is 1,969 miles long whereas our nation’s
continental coastline is 86,112 miles.
This equates to 85% of our border patrol allocated to mere 2% of our
border; a disproportionate ratio by any stretch of the imagination. Our borders need more than just political
culture targeting if we are to truly be safe. Who knows, maybe a few more jobs
here in America
instead of abroad as our government invests billions in protecting other
nation’s borders, would actually make sense. America
With the preceding in mind, the issue of illegal immigration seems rather inane. After all, most immigrants coming into
here for the betterment of their and their family’s futures. For the rest suffering for the lack of
security on our borders, airfields and seaports, the consequences on inaction
are dire. But shouldn’t we all be used to this sort of inept governing on the
real issues by now? After all, the
political performers of the capitalist system incessantly blame their rival
political parties for our current economic and social woes without any action
which reasonably solves any problem whatsoever.
Why should this issue be any different?
If half the effort our government expends to fight terrorism abroad and
to secure the sea ports and air space of other nations was expended and focused
on our own failing one, maybe we would see not only a better economy but a
better lifestyle for all our denizens, illegal or not. America
Immigration as a debate issue seems to be meant to distract our thoughts on the bigger problems facing this Nation and take from our national agenda, the dark edges of our profit oriented system. The truth of it all is quite simple: The political side show in this nation is not about finding solutions; it is about providing shock absorbers for our fantasy infected car pool traveling a road riddled with gaping, moral pot holes. Illegal immigration is the shallowest of these pits riddling the scarred surface of our Nation’s current path. If we are to improve as a Nation, we will need a better vision and improved policies not just for ourselves but for those who needlessly suffer within the shadow of our nation’s governmental inaction.
If it weren’t for the filibustering and useless discussions in
this would truly be an
we could all be proud of and possibly, prosper within. The sad realty is though;
filibustering and blaming of the opposite party for their own, inept governing is
all our “leaders” seem to know how do anymore.
In as far as illegal immigration is concerned, especially when
considering the context of what is really involved, the current debate completely
misses the mark. America