by Sharon Reiss
As I listen to the talking heads on both sides of the political aisle following the opening day of the 116th Congress, several thoughts come to mind regarding the ongoing debate over border security.
Rather than political hyperbole, allow me to cite some facts.
In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama, along with Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, voted with 23 other Senate Democrats, in favor of the Secure Fence Act. This statute allocated $50 billion over 25 years for 700 miles of fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The bill before us would certainly do some good,” Obama said then. “It would authorize some badly-needed funding for better fences and better security along our borders that should help stem the tide of illegal immigration in this country.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 17,000 criminals were apprehended at the border in 2018, many of them smuggling drugs. Also, in 2018, the DHS prevented more than 3,700 known or suspected terrorists from entering the U.S. In the interest of fairness, according to the Washington Post, citing information from the State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism, as of July 2017, there was “no credible information” that any of those terrorists had entered the U.S. through Mexico. However, on average, according to the DHS, there are 2,100 illegal crossings at the southern border every day.
On Christmas Day, in Fresno, California (a sanctuary city and state), Gustavo Perez Arriaga, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, murdered Police Corporal Ronil Singh, a legal immigrant with a wife and 6-month-old son. Arriaga is known to have violent Mexican gang affiliations, two prior DUI arrests and had been stopped by Officer Singh for another suspected DUI. Since his arrest, six more of his “associates,” all of them in the US illegally, have also been arrested. Had California law enforcement reported the suspect to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department (ICE), Officer Singh’s murder might have been prevented.
According to FactCheck.org, there were 12.1 million illegal immigrants in the US as of January 2014. Mexicans made up the majority, at 55 percent, in 2014. A growing percentage of those who did enter legally on visas have overstayed the legal time limits (and are now referred to as “overstays.”) A Center for Migration Studies report estimates that 44 percent were “overstays” in 2015.
The number of illegal family units apprehended by the DHS has increased since 2013, when it was 3.6 percent of apprehensions. In 2017, it was 24.9 percent.
As of June 2018, according to FactCheck.org, there are no readily-available nationwide statistics on all crimes committed by illegal immigrants. Some “open-borders” proponents claim that the crime rate by illegals is lower than in the general population. Other studies say the opposite.
But whichever view is correct, is this a chance we want to take by allowing unrestricted and unlimited entry into the U.S.? After all, for the family of Officer Singh, all statistics are meaningless.
I close by referencing a quote by Schumer, taken from a speech he gave at Georgetown Law School in June 2009: “Illegal immigration is wrong, plain and simple.”