Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 27, 2006

Border bill nonsense on CNN

Filed under: Border Security — by Christian Beckner on July 27, 2006

CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight aired one of the most asinine, slanted pieces I’ve heard in a long time tonight, on the state of play of the immigration and border legislation. The transcript is here – the segment by correspondent Lisa Sylvester is about 1/3rd of the way through the document. She begins (emphasis added):

Lou, the Senate passed its immigration legislation after only 10 days of full debate. Many questions were never answered, including, how would the federal government screen the millions of illegal aliens and what guarantee is there that terrorists could not exploit the system? Today, the House took up some of those issues.

Ten days? Hmm, how many days did the House spend debating H.R. 4437 on the floor last December? TWO.

And later, at the end of the segment, Sylvester says:

Supporters of the Senate bill want to settle these issues in conference committee. Members of the House say the issues are too large and too important to be decided behind closed doors. House members are concerned the amnesty provisions are so generous, the United States would still have less, not more, control over its immigration system. As one witness put it, he said, “The Senate bill almost ignores that there ever was such a thing as a 9/11 attack on the United States”

Hmm, so the negotiations on the Bill of Rights in 1789 were suitable for a House-Senate conference, but this bill is “too large and too important” for doing things the way that Congress is supposed to do them? And this last sentence is bunk. Both bills contain relatively strong border security language that would add more guards, fencing, and technology; the main dispute at this point is over the temporary worker program, which is primarily an immigration and economic issue, not a terrorism-related issue. So how exactly does the Senate bill ignore 9/11? Did illegal immigrant Mexicans carry out the attacks of 9/11 and no one told me?

The debate on immigration and border security is getting to the point of shrillness where I’m beginning to think that it’s undermining the #1 mission of DHS: preventing terrorism. So much of the DHS senior leaders’ time is spent these days doing photo-ops at the border and at worksite crackdowns that I’m starting to wonder whether they’re taking their eye off the ball. I’ve supported the passage of border security legislation this year because I do there are important terror-related vulnerabilities at our land borders, given the statistics about the number of people from “countries of interest” who have been intercepted trying to cross the border. That’s why I think certain provisions in the House bill (i.e. more border fencing) are better than the Senate’s bill. But I worry that the highly-politicized, demagogic debate that’s emerged on these issues over the last six months is creating an unhealthy dynamic that is distracting us from our fight against the real enemy: al-Qaeda.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 28, 2006 @ 11:32 am

I would place odds that no immigration reform bill passes as a conference version this year. The politicians are having too much fun posturing and not looking at the real issues. Such as what is the “brain drain” impact on Mexico? How much of the Mexican GDP is illegal and how much is invested annually in the US? What is the current status of the “Distant Shore” plan mandated by Congress to deal with mass immigration emergencies. Essentially the horse is out of the barn and now we are discussing whether or not to close the barn door. If the $600B spent on Iraq between now and 2009 had been spent on improving basic infrastructure in Mexico it would have been a better investment and given more energy security. We should have helped improve roads, bridges, water supply, medical facilities, etc. The Mexican’s are full partners in North America and it is time to just recognize their achievements and problems. Many rural areas of the US minus pension, medicare, social-securtiy issues are not that different from Mexico. The very very interesting north south split in the recent vote indicates that Northern Mexico really sees closer ties with the US as its future. It is amazing how little good analysis exists of Mexican issues in the US media. This may come as a surprise but we may need them more than they need us. The last bailout notwithstanding. (Note this really was just a bail-out of US BANKS.)Perhaps assistance on basics like population planning and education would be better discussed than fencing. It would be easier to help the Mexican’s build a fence on their southern border. It might also be more effective. Let them work here but mandate that 50% of their wages must be spent in Mexico or invested. Then the return home rate would improve. The drain on the states and local governments is enormous and ducked entirely in the debate. Unless we are willing to shoot Mexicans like we are willing to drown Haitians the flow cannot be stopped. Let’s get something in return like elimination of discrimination against “Gringo” investments in Mexico and ownership of land and participation in the energy arena. Bottom line no legislation until after 2008 at the earliest.

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