border patrol


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Once again, I have to point you in the direction of a friend of mine who wrote an excellent article entitled, “Duty Free.”

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Much dialogue on marijuana in the last few decades has centered around the large rates of incarceration and the exorbitant cost of imprisonment. According to estimates in Eric Schlosser’s book Reefer Madness, some 20,000 inmates are currently imprisoned primarily for a marijuana charge. Proponents for legalization have a valid point when they argue that if marijuana were no longer criminalized, it would save the United States millions of dollars in lost labor and imprisonment fees.

What is more bizarre, then, is that very few politicians or advocates have spoken loudly or clearly on the topic of immigrant criminalization. With more than 12 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the United States, this number defies all logical enforcement and flouts our underfunded prisons.

There are essentially two types of bad legislation. Some failed legislation are good laws badly enforced, as in the case of the Emancipation Proclamation or school desegregation in the South. Both of these were good laws which lacked a concerted effort at universal, uniform enforcement. While some states succeeded in integrating students of all ethnicities, many states found loopholes and ways to thwart real enforcement.

The other sort of bad legislation are bad laws impossible to enforce. Prohibition, as laid forth in the 18th Amendment, was a good moral choice but bad legislation. State-mandated alcohol abstinence was impossible to enforce; it succeeded in little more than feeding mob activity and criminalizing thousands of people who up to this point had been law-abiding citizens.

Our current immigration system in the United States would fit into the latter category. With over 12 million illegalized citizens, it is fiscally and theoretically impossible to punish, discipline, fine, imprison, or detain every extralegal immigrant in the U.S. Its enforcement is impossible, but that has not stopped us from pouring $6.7 billion dollars into border security for 2007. Border security received more than a 3% raise from 2006, while education funds remained essentially the same and emergency funds were cut by 2%, even in the wake of the Katrina fiasco. With all these increased border security measures, the cost to apprehend a single illegal immigrant crossing the border has risen from $300 in 1992 to $1700 in 2002. And we still have over 12 million undocumented immigrants.

The only immigration reform which has been approved in the past few years has been in bulking up our border security. However, that is missing the crux of this situation – this is ultimately self-defeating, prohibitively expensive, and impossible to enforce.

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his outspoken speeched against Vietnam, stated that, “Justice is indivisible.” To have a law on the books which is unjust and not being enforced is to shake the very bastions upon which our justice system stands. Ultimately we must join with King in agreeing that, “no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.” While amnesty will not solve everything, offering a feasible path towards citizenship for potential illegal immigrants as well as undocumented workers currently residing in the U.S. will begin to address this article of failed legislation and this pock upon our moral countenance.

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“The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin [read disobedience] increased, grace increased all the more.” Romans 5:20 NIV

With the advent of a nation-based quota system in 1924, many immigrants found themselves found themselves on the wrong side of a new law. Because of the quota system, it became illegal for many Mexicans to cross a border which was less than 80 years old. As the popular slogan states, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Many immigrants who had been pouring in legally were obstructed, and these quotas failed to take into account the growing and dynamic needs of our country and the globalizing world. With the creation of more laws, there will inevitably be more criminals, not necessarily more peace.

The United States of America must soon decide whether it wants to continue waging the costly and ultimately self-defeating war it has been waging against immigration. The border wall, estimated at $4-8 billion dollars, and the President’s proposed $13 billion for Border Security are huge costs to stave off a necessary immigrant pool. Just yesterday, the first Baby Boomer cashed her Social Security check; at a time like this, we should be encouraging young, qualified immigrants. Who else will foot the bill for our millions of retirees?

Immigrants have always been the lifeblood of our economy, and that is no different in today’s world. In fact, immigrants are even more important in today’s economy. Immigrants bring the world economy and global competition within our borders. At a time when America is ceding its position to China and the EU as the world’s prime economic regulator, our nation must realize that it is far better to bring people into our country than to export business outside our country. For years, our production companies have been sending jobs and values overseas. Immigrants are the main reason many key “American” industries are still profitable and still centered in the continental U.S. To continue criminalizing immigrants is to ignore the rough lessons of globalization and to accept a position as an economy in decline.

Our nation is bogged down with the expense and legislation of fighting a battle that we must not and should not wish to win. China is just now re-emerging as a true world power after years of shutting its doors and walling in its borders. With its new legislation, the United States appears to be turning back the clock and starting down that same path of isolationism and xenophobia.

These are the economic and legislative reasons our nation must opt against the continued criminalization of immigrants. What follows are ideas for ways in which to nonviolently voice opposition to this philosophy. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in “New Day in Birmingham” from his book Why We Can’t Wait, “It is terribly difficult to wage such a battle without the moral support of the national press to counteract the hostility of local editors.” (53) This tenet still holds true. Save for a few feature stories and the publicity surrounding the May Day protests 2 years ago, the media has been largely silent or silenced on this subject. It is the duty of the active citizenry, both legal and criminalized, to inform our nation’s media sources about the true heart of the immigration issue. If every informed reader would take genuine concern and write an OP-ED piece to his local newspaper or her college newspaper, this issue would again become the conversation piece it was before it was voted down in our nation’s lawmakers. If concerned citizens in our nation’s borderlands and cities would write articles or suggest immigrant stories to editors, newspapers and magazines would cover these stories because their readership demands it.

As I write, Mayor Ahumada in Brownsville, TX, is seeking to impose a court injunction against the construction of an unsightly, ineffective, and retrogressive border fence. Whereas in the times of Martin Luther King, Jr., the court injunctions were resisting positive changes in the realm of civil rights, this court injunction and others like it are seeking to use legal means to stop our country from continuing to make an unwise decision. Support for his efforts, and the efforts of all politicians and attorneys who are fighting for immigrant rights, is much needed at this time of dire urgency.

It is time for all God’s people to echo with one voice that anti-immigrant laws and quotas are immoral and retrogressive. It is time to say “Basta! Quotas were a bad idea in the 20s, and they are just as bad now.” We cannot afford to put this off until the next election. We must not just “sit” on this issue, because it is the backbone of our nation’s future. While 12 million illegal immigrants work and reside in this country without rights or legitimacy, none of us can rest assured of our inalienable rights. While 12 million “illegal” immigrants remain unjailed, unprosecuted, unprotected and disrespected, we must ask ourselves and our politicians if our nation can long endure with this many working citizens on the wrong side of such a law. If illegal aliens can be alienated because of an unjust quota system, then the very rights of citizenship itself are unjust. We must work in every facet and every means to nonviolently inform, persuade, and insist on true immigration reform. Our country desperately needs to rediscover grace.

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I found a fairly recent article protesting the Border Wall. I very much enjoyed the article, which includes information about a quickly upcoming direct action campaign. I quote part of the article here.

Johnson-Castro: The Death of the Border
By Jay Johnson-Castro

The No Border Walls group held the prototype for Hands Across El Rio on the Roma-Miguel Aleman bridge on July 14. (Photo: Martin Hagne)

August 7, 2007. If the Washington elitists have their way, the Texas-Mexico border as we know it today will die. It is terminal. It is suffering from an invasive and malignant disease. Tyranny.

The proposed border wall is a wall against all the citizens of the Americas to the south of us and to us who live here inside the checkpoints. The border wall would even cut us off from the international boundary, our beloved Rio Grande. No fishing, boating, swimming. No picnics in the park on its banks.

Elected officials from our entire border region have spoken out in solidarity against the border wall. But have not been heard by the Washington elitists. Elected officials outside of our border region look at our region with contempt. They would build walls and separate us from our neighbors and destroy our environment while doing so. They are militarizing this special region with thousands of troops and plan on subjecting the inhabitants to unreasonable search and seizure. They would arrest and imprison any person who looks like a “refugee” that has no proof of citizenship. This is not Palestine. This is not Baghdad. This is the United States. This is Texas. This is the land of the free…and should not be the land of tyranny.

Full Article Here.

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Governor Richardson delivered this speech at Georgetown University.


Like every other politician speaking on this issue, he shows us he can see both sides of this issue. But unfortunately, when you read between the lines, it becomes clear that Governor Richardson comes from no better a perspective despite being a border-state Governor.

This flawed perspective has two main flaws. First, it relies on a quota system. Second, it lets the U.S. economy set the quota based on the needs of U.S. citizens. This is very much an “America for American’s” approach.

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Well, I think the immigration law shouldn’t be like that because people from here, from the U.S. could go to Mexico without a problem, and come back without one. Well, I know it’s hard because one of my family members, Gama, is from Mexico, and I haven’t seen him like from two years ago. And I haven’t seen my uncle Gama like from two years ago. I remember when I was little, and all my family would get together and make a cook-out or something but now he can’t come here no more. Sometime, last year, when I went and visited him, and they told me he passed away. That’s why I should think they should be fair with the Mexican people.

I think you people from Congress should think about it because if you were to be in my shoes, I’m sure you would do everything to try to change the law. Like now, my mom’s friend, Rosa, went to Cd. Juarez to try to get her papers, but they didn’t give her permission to get them. And now, her sons are here by themselves, with their grandma. That’s why a lot of people are afraid to go out because of the law, that they want to send all people to Mexico, “where they belong.” I think it’s really unfair for people to come here because they can’t be able to do nothing because they know that if you’re from Mexico, they want to treat you bad. Because I live close to the border and I always see Border Patrol treating immigration people bad because they don’t have their papers and they are calling them like “mojados,” which means like “wetbacks.”

I think they should really change the law because I really miss some of my cousins. That’s why I took this time because of Mr. Moore told us that he was going to send these letters to Congress, and I think they could help us who have family over there.

-Antonio Quezada


This student gave me permission to post his letter on this website. I agreed to change the names of the people in the stories. -John Moore

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Let me give you an example of the ways that the current problems associated with so-called “illegal” immigration stem not from immigration, but from the illegalization of immigration. Many feel, and you will hear this common in the media, that because we are not in control of our borders, the United States of America is vulnerable to attack from terrorists who enter the country without permission.

Any honest person must admit that none or almost none of those crossing the border are terrorists. Almost all border crossers–whether they enter with documentation at a checkpoint or run through the desert in the middle of the night–are seeking a better life for themselves and their families. From an economic point of view, these migrants are supplying the labor our economy demands. But a few that cross are not so well-intentioned. A few cross, not to supply labor, but to supply drugs. Unlike the common references to the border and terrorism, drug trafficking through our borders is not hyperbole, but is in reality a huge problem for border communities, on both sides of the border. Whether you believe the hype about terrorists crossing the border illegally, or you consider the real problem of drug smuggling at the border, the basic problem is that there are so many “illegal” crossings that the border patrol cannot control the border. But while many argue that we should further militarize the border by building a wall, bringing the National Guard, etc., the solution to our problem is exactly the opposite.

If we did not prohibit laborers from immigrating, allowing all persons who could pass a criminal background check to enter the country at a checkpoint, where their belongings would be searched, then we could be certain that the only people running through the desert in the middle of the night are people who could not pass the criminal background check or who, if we searched their belongings, would not be allowed to enter the country. Rather than searching for a few needles in a very large haystack, we would get rid of the haystack and only have a few, well-exposed, needles. And that is a group that we could control. Furthermore, this is a group that we should want to control. In stead of being stretched thin by chasing millions of immigrant laborers through the desert, the border patrol would have enough resources to prevent every one of the hundreds of drug traffickers.

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