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May 18, 2006
The Six Percent Non-Solution (Updates)

We conservatives have spent a lot of time talking about the disillusionment that we have experienced with the current Republican leadership, especially in Congress, but also with the administration on several issues including immigration. However, according to the NBC affiliate in San Diego, Border Patrol agents have experienced much more disillusionment than we can claim as the failure to prosecute illegal aliens has demoralized the force:

An internal document obtained by The Associated Press shows the vast majority of people caught smuggling immigrants across the border near San Diego are never prosecuted for the offense, demoralizing the Border Patrol agents making the arrests.

The report says, "It is very difficult to keep agents' morale up when the laws they were told to uphold are being watered-down or not prosecuted."

The report offers a stark assessment of the situation at a Border Patrol station responsible for guarding 13 miles of mountainous border east of the city. Federal officials said it reflects a reality along the entire 2,000 -mile border: Judges and federal attorneys are so swamped that only the most egregious smuggling cases are prosecuted.

The report said that only 6 percent of 289 suspected immigrant smugglers were prosecuted by the federal government for that offense in the year ending in September 2004. Some were instead prosecuted for another crime. Other cases were declined by federal prosecutors, or the suspect was released by the Border Patrol.

Rep. Darrell Issa's office released the internal report, which they indicate was written last summer. This shows the overwhelming pressure that illegal immigration causes and the futility of working within the current system. The federal government only prosecuted 6% of the 289 smugglers snagged by the BP in the 2003-4 fiscal year. That represents just 17 cases, and that is for the smugglers, not the illegals themselves. No wonder the agents are demoralized.

Obviously, the feds have not given the fight against illegal entry a very high priority up to now. They may have decided to prioritize for other security needs after 9/11, but anyone who thinks that a prosecution rate of 6% represents any kind of deterrent has to have a head examination. The message sent to the smugglers and the aliens they often exploited in deadly conditions by the US government was one of resigned apathy, and no one knows that more than the agents we left hanging out to dry.

This underscores the need for serious border control as the primary component of any "reform" effort. What obviously needs reform more than anything else is the ICE and the government's management of the southern border. We need to ensure that Congress allocates and the administration applies the proper level of funding for all aspects of enforcement, including prosecution and significant prison time before deportation. When we do that, we will present not only a reinforced border but also a reinforced will.

UPDATE: The Senate spent more time on amendments to its immigration bill, but none so ironically hilarious as the debate over a national language. Faced with two different proposals on how to promote the use of English, the Senate adopted both:

The Senate voted Thursday to make English the national language of the United States. Sort of.

Moments after the 63-34 vote, it decided to call the mother tongue a "common and unifying language."

"You can't have it both ways," warned Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a fan of "national" but not "common and unifying." Two dozen senators disagreed and voted for both as the Senate lumbered toward an expected vote next week on a controversial immigration bill.

Does anyone else see the humor in the inability of the World's Greatest Deliberative BodyTM to agree on which phrase in English best suuports its desirability? In fact, the two phrases don't even contradict each other, so the dissonance between the two amendments is non-existent. The national language can also be considered common and unifying; the two are hardly mutually exclusive but rather almost axiomatically linked.

That didn't keep Harry Reid from declaring the amendments "racist". Apparently the Senator from Nevada has some information that proves an inability of certain ethnicities to learn English, a shortcoming that has never before occurred in anyone's experience. This proves that the Senate may want to brush up on its own English, since the Minority Leader (heh) has no clue as to the epithet he tossed out so casually -- and a sentiment with which a significant number of his own caucus obviously disagreed. Eleven Democrats supported the effort to make English the official national language.

More significantly, the Senate also voted to reverse a decision reached just yesterday that barred guest workers from seeking citizenship rather than returning to their home countries. Instead of leaving after four years, the temps will have the ability to seek citizenship if the government determines that no Americans or legal residents can be found to fill their positions. The reversal renders the entire notion of a guest-worker program moot, of course. As I noted yesterday, the cost to enforce the expiration of the visas would have been tremendous; now we don't have to worry about it at all. Why not just quit pretending to extend a temporary status to a subset of immigrants and treat them all equally from the beginning?

That would seem to be simple, straightforward, and much easier to comprehend. However, like its grasp on English, the Senate does not seem to understand the inherent contradiction that exists in this amendment.

UPDATE II: Six percent, not six cases; I misread it. Thanks to Burt in the comments.

UPDATE III: Oh, heck, let's just link a whole lot of stuff on this one post.

Newsbeat1 links to a report that first appeared in the Federal Times last March that discusses the demoralization of the Border Patrol. The article is an interview with T. J. Bonner, the president of the BP agent union, and it mentions a lot more reasons for their demoralization than just a lack of prosecutorial zeal:

Being a Border Patrol agent today is different in many ways from 1978, when T.J. Bonner was still learning the ropes in Campo, Calif., in San Diego County near the Mexican border. The job was exciting and challenging then, said Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union that is part of the American Federation of Government Employees and represents about 12,000 agents. Border Patrol agents had a lot more freedom back then to track illegal immigrants — sometimes for days at a time.

Now, agents are ordered to stay put in one spot on the border to scare aliens away — a failed policy, Bonner said, because it doesn’t solve the illegal immigration problem and has essentially made agents targets of shootings and other violence.

Yikes! They tell these men and woment to stand in one spot -- and that's supposed to frighten illegal aliens? Who came up with that brilliant idea? It sounds like the same bureaucratic idiot that forced air marshals to dress business casual in order to present a professional image to the public ... in a job where they were supposed to be covert. Most definitely, read the entire article.

Jon Henke lends his libertarian voice to the immigration debate at QandO. He wonders why limited-government conservatives see an expansion of government as the proper solution for what may not really be that much of a problem. That is an interesting take on the issue; I disagree, however, because one of the true functions of federal government in our Constitutional system is to secure and enforce the national borders. Jon then does his best impersonation of the official Border Patrol policy by standing still while his co-bloggers toss rocks at him (but in a respectful manner).

Note to the adminstrators of group blogs: QandO shows how to conduct an internecine debate and remain coherent.

Meanwhile, in the barely-related topic of Republican disillusionment, Rick Moran tells us why he will drag his sorry behind to the polls on November 6th. Great to have you on board, Rick, but we'll have to work on the enthusiasm ....

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 18, 2006 6:53 PM

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NOTHING WRONG WITH explaining, that, yes, English is in fact the languge of the United States, but passing a proclamation has the whiff of Frenchness to it - a hypervigilance for the common culture and language that reaks of overkill... [Read More]

Tracked on May 20, 2006 1:12 AM


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