America's Voice En Español »
At NPR today is an analogy on why people find themselves forced to come to the US without papers:
Imagine immigration, especially from Latin America, as a two-lane residential street with a 20-mile-an-hour speed limit. Over the decades, it’s grown to an eight-lane superhighway. But the speed limit is still 20 mph. That is, visas for needed workers haven’t risen along with the traffic.
That is, even though people want to move into the country and employers here need immigrant workers, there is no existing line for the vast majority of people who want to come to the US legally. Which is why next year, activists and advocates for immigration reform will be pushing for new legislation that creates a path to citizenship for the aspiring Americans already here—and creates a better system for future generations of immigrants.
Opponents of immigration reform often stonewall by claiming that more must be done to secure the border first before legislation that confers citizenship can be discussed. But according to the NPR report by Ted Robbins today, the question of “Is the Border Secure Enough to Tackle the Immigration System?” can already be answered with a resounding “yes”:
Since the mid-1980s, the U.S. Border Patrol has quintupled in size — growing from about 4,000 to more than 20,000 agents.
The government has constructed some 700 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers. It has placed thousands of ground sensors, lights, radar towers and cameras along the border. And Customs and Border Protection is now flying drones and helicopters to locate smuggles and rescue stranded immigrants.
So here’s the question: Is the Southwest border secure?
The statistics paint a picture that says “yes”…
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says all those facts are indicators of progress in the right direction.
“If I were a police chief of a major city and I came in and I said we had reduced crime in four years by 70 to 80 percent, people would say, ‘That’s a great job. You’re a great police chief,’ ” she says. “If you took that and you applied it to what’s been going on along the Southwest border, you’d have to say objectively the same thing”…
Napolitano says people who demand complete border security before immigration reform are not being realistic.
“There’s no border in the world that doesn’t have some form of migration, legal and illegal,” she says. “So saying it has to be zero is like saying we have to put the United States under some sort of Tupperware container and seal it off. That’s not how our country operates.”
Read the first two installment of the series, “Immigration Changes ‘Gotta Happen This Year’” and “Federal-State Tug of War: Drawing the Lines in Immigration Overhaul”