USA Today on April 3 had an insightful article on the herculean task of trying to secure the 1,969 mile long southwest border of our country.
The U.S. Border Patrol has 9 geographical sectors spanning the border. Five of those sectors account for almost all apprehensions:
Tucson Sector: 120,000 apprehensions 4,176 agents
Rio Grande Valley Sector: 97,762 apprehensions 2,546 agents
Laredo Sector: 44,872 apprehensions 1,879 agents
San Diego Sector: 28,461 apprehensions 2,623 agents
El Centro Sector: 23,916 apprehensions 1,168 agents
We must keep in mind that the largest illegal entry into our country now is from criminal elements transporting narcotics, guns, and money back and forth to Mexico. Human traffickers would be next. People looking for work in the USA account for a small trickle compared to past years.
Since the bad guys are our real target, then we should place our focus on the criminal elements and deploy more Border Patrol agents in those five Sectors with the highest traffic. These five Sectors employ 12,600 agents. If we are really serious about securing our southern border, then it is reasonable to expect that the number of agents must be increased.
The big questions remain: how many new agents would dramatically halt entry into our country? What time-line should accompany their deployment? How does one actually measure the security of a border? Given the 1,969 mile border, it will be impossible to patrol every single mile 24/7.
I recommend that Congress focus on the 5 sectors which demonstrate the highest traffic, and then determine how many new agents would be required to reduce illegal entries to a minimal number. Some newer technology would also help, but the Border Patrol has shown that agents on the ground achieve the greatest success.
Will this cost more money? Of course. But if tighter border security, along with all the other provisions in a comprehensive immigration reform package, results in fewer undocumented people in our country over time, then any costs associated with that undocumented population will drop significantly.
I believe most Americans favor stronger border security: both with the 4,400,000 undocumented immigrants who came here on valid Visas and never left when the Visas expired; and with the 6,600,000 undocumented immigrants living and working in the shadows of our society.
But unreasonable demands and expectations about securing a border of 1,969 miles must be set aside. We need to do what needs to be done for border security, with the highest priority being given to the many criminal elements.