Los Angeles Valley College
Political Science 001 - American Government
Spring 2007 - Revised May 2007
highly partisan or region specific. The failure to address border security after declaring it to be a major problem has diminished faith in the Congress.
The 9/11 Commission Report and books by Richard Clarke and George Tennant have combined to alert us to the continuing threat and how difficult detection of dedicated terrorists can be.
The border governors’ actions, the books by former security officials, the Congressional debates and frequent reminders of the threat have dominated TV news and the front and editorial pages of our elite newspapers since 9/11/2001. Respected news magazines and academic journals have regularly weighed in with in-depth scholarly studies, while the more sensational branches of the media have consistently fanned the flames with poorly researched reporting, inaccurate findings and divisive commentary. The net effect has been to make illegal immigration the focal point of future anti-terrorism policy.
What facts came to light? Congressional debates and extensive media coverage have combined to paint a disturbing picture. A sample of key findings shows:
We are unable currently to ‘protect’ our borders against the stream of illegal immigrants and the increasing levels of illegal drugs that cross into our southwestern states with impunity. Half a million illegal immigrants arrived in the United States in 2006 to join some 11 million others who had made the trek at an earlier time. Over $1.5 B of illegal drugs were confiscated during that time. The drugs confiscated were, according to DEA estimates, less than 10% of the actual flow of drugs across the border. Between March 30 & May 4th of 2007 Border Patrol agents seized $53,000,000 worth of narcotics on the southern border.
The US Customs and Border Patrol is overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of illegal immigrants. Its 13,000 agents, 250 aircraft and 90 small boats are responsible for policing nearly 3,000 miles of rugged border, some 1,000 adjacent miles of inland water ways and 2000 miles of coast not covered by the US Coast Guard. Minimal policing of the border runs an estimated $ 10.4 B in 2007 [Up from $ 4.6 B in 2001]
The costs to this country of illegal immigration have heretofore been considered minimal in comparison to the economic benefit received. The latest data however, challenge the more commonly held positive views of ‘undocumented workers.’ The costs are significant and fall into two categories - direct costs and indirect costs:
California estimates it costs $750 M annually to apprehend, temporarily incarcerate and deport Hispanic felons, drug runners and parole violators.