Border Security in the United States Term Paper

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¶ … border security in the United States. Specifically it will discuss whether efforts to restructure U.S. immigration policy should focus primarily on securing the nations borders. Alternatively, should the reformers' priority be facilitating illegal immigrants' ability to obtain a work permit or attain U.S. citizenship? One thing is certain. The nation will never be the same after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. One of the items that has changed drastically since that day is the nation's security. Today, enemies can enter the country from land, air, or water, and securing all of the nation's borders, ports, and airports is a security nightmare. Long a bone of contention, the U.S.-Mexican border is now not only a location of massive amounts of illegal entry into the United States, it is also a potential security threat due to the ease a terrorist or terrorist group could cross in some of the more isolated areas. Securing the borders is a necessity for the country, both for safety and for managing immigration more effectively.

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The Mexican-American border stretches 1952 miles from the Pacific Coast in California to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. Hundreds of cities, towns, and open areas straddle both sides of the border. It is an open and non-secure invitation to illegal immigrants and anyone else who might want to enter the country for underhanded reasons. It is also an open door to drug dealers who work in Mexico and sell their products across the border for enormous profits. For these reasons and more, the border between the United States and Mexico must be secured, and remain secured. The nation's immigration policy should include some types of organized reform, but a major part of the policy should center on increased border security for the safety and welfare of all Americans.

Term Paper on Border Security in the United States. Specifically Assignment

Today, there are long lengths of the U.S.-Mexico border that are unsecured and open to crossing back and forth. If there is a fence, it is a flimsy wire barrier that is easily bent, knocked down, or cut to gain access to the U.S. The U.S. Border Patrol patrols many high-traffic areas of the border, but there are only so many Border Patrol Agents, and they are far outnumbered by the sheer volume of Mexicans attempting to cross the border. One organization that is attempting to build adequate fences along the border is the group Border Fence Project, who note, "According to most Border Patrol officials, because three illegal aliens on average escape for every one they detain, and about one million are detained annually, at least three million escape into the U.S. every year" (Editors). Many of these illegal immigrants flood the social services of the country, from welfare to health care and education, creating skyrocketing costs in many communities where illegal immigrants settle.

The social costs of illegal immigration can be immeasurable. Many immigrants do not pay taxes, and yet qualify for many social benefits, from indigent health care to bilingual education, throughout their communities. This comes at a great cost to the rest of society. The editors of the Border Patrol Project continue, "Illegal immigrants, [...] cause debt to local, state, and federal governments, even when including taxes incurred from them, to the tune of $384 billion annually, and closer to $1 trillion dollars annually when considering lost tax revenue because of the ever burgeoning cash economy" (Editors). Many immigrants also send major portions of their income home to Latin American relatives, removing this income from the nation's economy. Thus, a non-secure border threatens society and the economy in many ways. Maintaining a secure border will decrease the number of illegal immigrants who manage to make it into this country, while leaving more room for legal immigrants who utilize the right channels to enter the country.

There is another aspect to border security that is extremely important to control, and that is the illegal drug trade that depends on holes in security to transfer millions of dollars worth of illicit drugs across the border for massive amounts of unlawful profits to the drug trade. The drug trade is burgeoning along the border, and has been unable to be controlled for decades. Another author writes, "[L]ocal INS border chief Gustavo De La Vina and the heads of the San Diego county and city police departments called for a significant increase in federal resources for boundary enforcement to stem the flow of unauthorized immigrants and to fight the associated drug smuggling, crime, and poverty" (Nevins 90). Drug related crimes continue to cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year, and securing the borders could help reduce the flow of drugs across the border if handled effectively.

While illegal immigration and stemming the drug trade are compelling reasons to ensure the security of the borders, there is a much more important reason to monitor the border more effectively, and that is the threat of terrorist activity. A Washington D.C. reporter notes, "Border enforcement is as crucial in post-September 11 America as it was when the Reagan White House and Democrat-controlled Congress last passed 'comprehensive immigration reform'" (Simmons A19). Indeed, a majority of Americans back increased border security, if only for this reason. There are currently hundreds of miles of border between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada that are unmanned, unfenced, and open to easy access by anyone. A determined individual could simply hike into a remote area, walk across the border, and hike back out on American soil. It is so simple to do, just about anyone could do it. No one knows how many terrorists and terrorist paraphernalia have entered the country through these channels, because these areas are wide open and unmonitored. If America wants to maintain a high level of national security, then all areas of entry must be sealed and remain secure. Until this happens, Americans are constantly at risk, even though we may feel safe and secure. It is almost a sure thing that terrorists will strike America again. Their hatred is legendary and so is their determination to cause destruction and harm. Securing the borders will not erase that threat. However, it will make it even more difficult for terrorists to enter the country undetected, and it can add a measure of security to the American defenses.

The need for a border fence and increased border security seems logical, but how can this massive undertaking be accomplished? Many supporters of increased security along the border point to the 700-mile long border fence under contract to be built as one way to maintain increased security along the border. However, since there are 1952 miles of border, and only 700 miles of proposed fence, there will still be huge gaps in the border defense. Other methods of tracking illegal immigrants must also be used to effectively secure the borders.

In addition to the border fence, increasing tracking and motion sensing devices would be placed along the border to monitor illegal activity along the border. There are a variety of electronic sensors and other technologies available to monitor activity along the border. For example, the Border Fence Project advocates the use of "high-tech TV cameras, microphones, lighting, motion and other electronic sensors" (Editor) in the quest to secure the borders. In San Diego, a double fence is lit by 40-foot high lights and floodlights, and patrolled by Border Patrol agents in helicopters as well as in vehicles, and illegal immigration in the area has dropped dramatically as a result. (Nevins 71).

There are many opponents to the border fence and other security measures. They feel it will not be a strong enough or defendable deterrent to terrorism, and they feel it reeks of racism and anti-Hispanic sentiment. Many also harbor environmental concerns about the impact of 700 miles of barrier being built across some of the most pristine and isolated desert areas in the Southwest. Instead, they urge increased Customs Service personnel to help ensure drugs and terrorists to not enter the country illegally, along with increased processing of legal immigrant applications and a new high-tech visa system that would help track immigrants who have stayed in the country over the limit of their visas (Coleman 20). Most opponents also believe the tide of illegal immigration will not be stemmed by a border fence and increased security, and the thoughts of many illegal immigrants add credence to this claim.

One Mexican attempting to illegally cross the border says, "Walls and lights and sensors and police fill our heads,' says Dagoberto Martinez, '...but they don't make us turn back'" (Harman). Indeed, many illegals simply head right back across the border if they are intercepted in the U.S., while others make the trip back and forth often to visit family back home. Reporter Harman discusses one young illegal who works two jobs in Las Vegas. He continues about the boy, "He now sends half his money back to his parents every month, and saves most of the rest for trips home at Christmas, and to pay the coyotes to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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