NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

March 3, 2013

Column:

While Congress is holding hearings on immigration, let’s learn about illegal immigration from someone who just returned from a Rio Grande Valley border tour.

My colleague Chip Faulkner, who rarely takes a real vacation, surprised me last year with enthusiasm for taking a week-long tour of the Arizona border with the Center for Immigration Studies. He found it so interesting that he joined the Center staff again this year to visit the Texas border. Here are some of the things he told me when he returned.

As Obama releases his own immigration bill with its “path to citizenship” for illegals who are already here, we’ve been assured by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano that the borders are secure. Chip saw mostly open desert between Arizona and Mexico, and mostly unsecured Rio Grande on the southernmost Texas border. Meeting with local ranchers and other homeowners he was told that her claim was “absurd”, that there are still a lot of illegals crossing the shallow river with its multiple S-curves that make this relatively easy.

Substantially increasing the number of Border Patrol agents has not solved the problem. They were hired so quickly that adequate background checks were not done; one of them was found to be an illegal immigrant himself!

Locals say that most Washington politicians/bureaucrats are “clueless” when it comes to knowing the concerns of the Americans living along these borders: They visit for a photo-op, stay a day or two, ignore what people are trying to tell them, and then fly back to DC to set policy that doesn’t help. This was true of officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Chip missed his flight to San Antonio because of the blizzard so he didn’t get to the earliest part of the itinerary, the city of Eagle Pass, directly across the Rio Grande from the Mexican city of Piedras Negras, “where Yee Haw meets Ole!” There the group had found a new border fence near downtown, finally impeding what had been an easy illegal crossing of humans and drugs from Mexico.

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