The "Other Than Mexicans" who are caught on one section of the US border with Mexico are all held, prosecuted for breaking the law, and then deported.
But this year, a 190-mile stretch of riverbank that includes the small border cities of Eagle Pass and Del Rio became a "zero-tolerance zone." If apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol, illegal immigrants are prosecuted by federal authorities for a misdemeanor, sent to jail for 15 to 180 days and then deported. If they are caught illegally entering the country a second time, they are eligible for a felony charge of illegal entry and as much as two years in federal prison.
"Catch and release" -- in which Mexican citizens are returned promptly to Mexico, but citizens of other countries are given a notice to appear in immigration court at a later date, set free and never tracked down by authorities -- would end here, said Department of Homeland Security officials at a Washington news conference this year. "Catch and remove" would start. And, officials predicted, as this tough policy became known, immigrants would be discouraged from crossing through this slice of southwest Texas.
This is the way it should work on the entire border.
The Border Patrol agents have so much extra time that they are catching many more drug smugglers.
As of June 5, apprehensions of illegal immigrants in Eagle Pass, where Operation Streamline II began Dec. 6, were down 51 percent, and they were down 32 percent in Del Rio, compared with the same period a year ago. Apprehensions of drug smugglers increased substantially between Dec. 6 and June 5, because agents were no longer tied up processing illegal immigrants, Clark said. Since the program began, the value of narcotics seizures has increased 309 percent to $13 million in Eagle Pass and by 176 percent to almost $40 million in Del Rio, he said.
Some of the crossers have shifted to other sections of the border. But this same program could be implemented along the entire border. At first the prisons along the border would be flooded with people. But as word got out the news would deter a substantial fraction of potential illegal crossers.
Border enforcement is possible. We just need the political will to do it.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 June 17 10:16 PM Immigration Law Enforcement|