Secure the Border Now-Not Two More Years From Now

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday that the U.S. will have “operational control” of the border by 2008 — two years sooner than they had anticipated.

That isn’t soon enough.

And what does “operational control” mean, anyhow?

In an Appropriations subcommittee meeting on May 24, 2006, David Aguilar, chief of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, was asked how many illegal aliens would be stopped and how many would continue to cross the border once “operation control” was achieved.

“Will it be 100 percent? No,” said Aquilar. “We will always have people crossing the border. But operational control of the border will get us to the point to where we’re able to detect any illegal incursion, be able to be responsive to it, be able to resolve it within the appropriate time in order to make the interdiction or deter or turn that incursion back across from where it came, either northern or southern border.”

“Operational control,” in other words, does not envision building effective fencing or walls along the length of border. It envisions being able to see illegal aliens coming and send someone out to “interdict” them.

As long as the Administration is going to generally rely on human beings on our side of the border physically interdicting human beings crossing illegally from the other side of the border, why doesn’t it just put enough human beings on our side of the border to get the job done now.

Based on a study of the success of the Minutemen in securing short stretches of the border, the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus concluded that deploying 6 men per mile could stop illegal crossings. To deploy that many people in 3 shifts over 24 hours along the entire length of the border would take 36,000 men.

In May, President Bush announced he would deploy 6,000 National Guardsmen at the border. That is just 1 per mile.

The President also said these Guardsmen would not going to be involved in “direct law-enforcement activities.”

In other words, they weren’t being deployed with the intent of actually securing the border.

All the President needs to do now is deploy 6 times the number of troops he originally committed and give them the authority to actually stop illegal aliens.

It isn’t a question of whether the United States can gain “operational control” of its own border before 2008, it is a question of whether our national leadership really wants to do it.