Thursday, May 01, 2008

Border Patrol

Those who advocate an enforcement-only approach to undocumented immigration usually cite the need for more Border Patrol agents. Now the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol's El Paso Sector says the country needs broader reform, and not just agents.

Chief Patrol Agent Victor Manjarrez Jr. said that without comprehensive immigration reform, border agents continue to split their attention between "economic migrants," criminals and potential terrorists.

"Most of these people are economic migrants but we have to deal with them between the ports of entry because we have not, in terms of a legislative fix, determined what we do with these people," Manjarrez said.

"I think it's pretty obvious that the country has a need for economic migrants. To what degree, I don't know. That's for the country to decide and for the politicians to decide."

It is unusual for someone in the Border Patrol to speak about the political aspects of immigration, or at least I have rarely read these sorts of comments. His main point is that their job is to fight terrorism, and arresting people who just want jobs actually hurts the country’s security:

"Our primary mission changed from our traditional focus. Our primary mission now is terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. That's what we should be focused on. We can't focus on that as much as we would like because of all the other issues that we deal with."

That argument has been made before, but perhaps it will start gaining more traction. It is remarkable how many resources we use to address economic migration, believing that we can stop it.


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