Los Angeles Valley College
Political Science 001 - American Government
Spring 2007 - Revised May 2007
obtain the means locally to carry out yet another, probably more devastating attack. This highly plausible scenario places the spotlight on our porous and under-protected
land and sea borders. The apparent ease with which illegal border-crossers come here and remain hidden from official view heightens our concerns.
Why now? The insecurity of our borders became a topic of increasing concern in 2005. During that year a number of separate but related matters joined to create what has become almost a ‘perfect storm.’ These matters were:
Sympathy for undocumented workers has waned as the public has become more aware of:
The sheer numbers of illegal border crossers each year
The size, complexity and ruthlessness of the ‘support network’
The disclosure of widespread collusion between government officials and private individuals on both sides of the border to keep the infiltration process viable
The discovery of well developed tunnel systems and other innovated ways of smuggling people, drugs and weapons across the border.
The increase in damage to the property and resources of US border dwellers. Cattle have been killed, crops destroyed, farm equipment stolen and damaged amounting to millions of dollars of uncompensated losses.
The emergence of the ‘Minuteman’ protest movement increased public awareness of the size and complexity of illegal immigration. Although the media has been generally derisive of what they call the Minutemen’s ‘vigilantism’ their reporting helped bring the subject to the attention of the public and in turn to our political leaders. While the latter group would have been happy not to address it they have been forced to debate the issue and attempt to come up with remedial legislation.
The declaration of ‘States of Emergency’ in California, Arizona and New Mexico in the summer of 2005 were based on rapidly increasing costs associated with property damage, illegal drugs, gang violence and vandalism. All of the above criminal activity was directly attributable to illegal border crossers. The fact that two of the three governors are Democrats and the Governor of New Mexico is Hispanic provided a heightened sense of urgency. All three governors govern states that are increasingly beholden to a growing bloc of politically active Hispanic/American voters.
The ‘Patriot Act’ renewal and the ‘Border Security’ bills were debated in both houses of Congress in the spring and fall of 2006. The debates in both houses were heated, often acrimonious and showed rare bipartisan agreement that the problem had reached much higher and previously under appreciated proportions. Their solutions to the problems were less harmonious and tended to be either