Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another I Told You So Moment

Anyone with half a functioning brain knew that building a virtual fence around the US to keep the pesky interlopers from the rest of the world out was not going to work. That didn't stop George W. Bush (who is no doubt still hunting for WMDs) from demanding it and the Republican-led Congress from funding it in 2004. Billions of dollars and six years later, the project hopelessly behind schedule, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has frozen further funding on the project.

The center-left editorial board of the Los Angeles Times also admits that the project maybe wasn't such a good idea.

It turns out the smart fence was kind of a dumb idea after all.

The virtual border wall, a network of sensors, cameras and radar meant to help the Border Patrol nab illegal crossers, has never worked as planned, and according to the Government Accountability Office, even the tests designed to evaluate it are badly flawed. After ordering a reassessment of the project two months ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that she would freeze all funding for the 2005 Bush administration initiative until the probe is complete. ...

Bush believed that technology also could be used to secure the border. Hoping to placate Congress, which scoffed at his proposals on comprehensive immigration reform and seemed solely interested in halting the flow of immigrants, Bush called for a virtual fence that by 2011 was supposed to cover nearly the entire 2,000-mile southern border. Roughly $1 billion later, we have two testing sites in the Arizona desert, where drifting sagebrush and wildlife often set off the sensors. The system is so slow that on the rare occasions it does sense a human border crosser, by the time cameras can focus on the area, the lawbreaker is gone.

It would be great if there were a technological solution to illegal immigration. But it would be extraordinarily hard, not to mention expensive, to develop an effective technology that couldn't be speedily defeated by clever human smugglers. And even in the unlikely event that a foolproof fence could be built, it wouldn't address the huge number of immigrants who cross the border legally but then overstay their visas.

In addition to Bush's missile shield, Obama aims to kill his predecessor's misguided mission to put astronauts back on the moon. While he's at it, he should scrap the border fence too, and focus on real-world policies that would not only secure the borders but deal humanely with the millions of illegal immigrants already in the country.

Well, duh!

President Obama has promised to look at immigration reform, but only after he gets his health care reform in place. Right now, that looks to be sometime late in his first (and perhaps only) term. In the mean time, he's decided to step up enforcement of immigration policies by rousting the undocumented people here already. See my post from yesterday as to just how stiff and unyielding that policy is.

A proposal for immigration reform has been presented to the White House by two senators, and President Obama has acknowledged it with a luke-warm announcement that the reform is still on his agenda. I'm sure immigration reform supporters from both parties were thrilled with that bit of news.

November is less than ten months away. Something more than a luke-warm response is going to be needed if the Democrats wish to keep their majority in Congress. Anyone with half a functioning brain knows that.

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Anonymous xan said...

Hmm. I thought it was curious that there were not one but two separate segments on NBCNightly today (3/20)--on the Mexican drug-gang war and then on the (apparently US based although this was not entirely clear) war on cops by a motorcycle gang in the meth trade in much the same (CA border) area.

You can't scare people with "brown people gonna come take yer jobs" any more since there aren't any to take. So now we are suddenly supposed to care about the "violent drug cartels". Which would be more convincing--they are after all violent in the extreme, and cartels, and their business is drugs--if said conflict hadn't been underway with constantly increasing levels of gunfire for years now.

I would suggest a legalization campaign but then they'd come and assassinate me. Last thing they want is their market cut out from under them. But one has to wonder if GE was getting any of that now-frozen fence money....

4:39 PM  

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