What is a “Secure” Border?

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Our borders are on the verge of militarization.

We simply cannot accept comprehensive immigration reform without a pathway to citizenship for our nation’s undocumented immigrants.

Opponents of immigration reform say they will only accept a path to citizenship if our borders are secure.

But what is secure?

If you go by the numbers, our borders are as secure now as they’ve ever been. We’re spending more on border security than ever, at the tune of $18 billion every year. That’s more than what we spend on the FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals, DEA and the Secret Service – combined.

“Political leaders need to engage in the kind of precise discussion about when or how exactly the border can be considered sufficiently ‘secure,’ which has not been determined as of yet,” according to “Defining Border Security in Immigration Reform,” a new report by the Morrison Institute Latino Public Policy Center at Arizona State University.

The immigration bill that passed in the Senate established a goal of a 90% effectiveness rate (the number of apprehensions plus the number of “turn-backs,” or people spotted starting to cross who turn around to avoid capture, divided by the total number of attempted crossings).

According to the new report, the southwestern border’s effectiveness rate has steadily improved over the past five years, from 69.11% to 83.7%. In Arizona during that same time, the Yuma Sector’s effectiveness rate improved from 63.81% to 93.74%, and the Tucson Sector’s from 66.93% to 86.87%.

The so-called Border Surge amendment that was added to the Senate bill at the last minute allocates a further $23 billion toward border security over the next decade, while doubling the number of agents.

The rhetoric from anti-immigration conservatives is that our borders are more porous than ever and that people are crossing over in droves.

The facts clearly debunk that myth.

Opponents of immigration reform in Congress need to acknowledge that the southern border is the most secure it has ever been.

Otherwise, the only secure thing will be the continuation of a broken system and all the consequences that come with it.


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