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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Immigration reform now seems certain to pass the Senate, in an amended bill that may attract as many as 70 votes from both parties. If the House of Representatives ever escapes the control of its extremist minority, that legislation could improve life for millions of undocumented workers and their families. But the costs of any likely compromise include a “surge” that will rapidly double the size of the U.S. Border Patrol to 40,00 agents, along with much more fencing and surveillance technology.

The Senate bill’s expensive “security enhancements” were included to satisfy or silence Republican complaints about the supposedly porous border, although that appears to be more an excuse to oppose reform than a reality. Illegal border crossings have declined precipitously over the past few years as deportations have increased, and the number of arrests by the average Border Patrol agent has dropped from as many as 100 to only 19 annually.

So why do we need so many more agents peering over at Mexico? Evidently thousands of additional armed and uniformed men  – along with the fencing and high-tech surveillance gadgets, all of dubious value – are necessary so that legislators can proclaim their own toughness. But there are potentially deadly consequences to bringing on a huge, rapid influx of inexperienced personnel.

Over the past few years, Border Patrol agents have killed a number of innocent civilians in several incidents that indicate overzealous attitudes and inadequate training. A federal grand jury is examining the terrible case of a Mexican man apparently murdered, as witnesses watched, by agents who beat him and shocked him repeatedly with tasers while his hands were bound. The San Diego, CA, Coroner’s Office classified his death as a homicide. At least eight others, only one with any connection to criminality, were killed in cross-border shootings that have understandably outraged the government and people of Mexico.

Journalist and filmmaker John Carlos Frey first exposed these lethal incidents — and the troubling disorder in the Border Patrol – with a series of prize-winning broadcasts and articles over the past year. (His work can be found at In one such case, examined by Frey in the May issue of The Washington Monthly, Border Patrol agents reacted to rocks thrown across the border with a volley of gunfire into the streets of Nogales, Mexico. Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, an unarmed young man strolling through the neighborhood, was hit twice in the back of the head and six times in the back. He fell and died on the spot.

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33 responses to “Why The Senate’s ‘Border Surge’ Could Prove Wasteful — And Lethal”

  1. 4sanity4all says:

    I am outraged that they want to put a border agent every 1000 feet, and spend massive amounts of money defending the border between the U. S. and Mexico. But they cannot pass a jobs bill or fund the SNAP program for hungry Americans. Why not dedicate some money to cleaning up abuses in the SNAP program, then we can all rest assured that it is doing what it was intended to do- feed hungry Americans who cannot afford to eat. Or how about some money for our beleaguered public schools across the country? Due to depleted state budgets and financial mismanagement on the state level, our public schools are disastrously underfunded, even while money is being siphoned off for charter schools, who produce no better results. How about some federal money to investigate and correct the mismanagement of school funds? With all of the desperate needs in this country, this is what Congress wants to waste money on?

    • Fern Woodfork says:

      After All Their Cries Of Too Much Spending People Have To See That The GOP/Tea Party Is So Full Of Shit!!! Funny They Can Always Find Money For Wars And What They Want But Too Much Money Is Being Spent Helping This Country Poor!! But They Can Spend Over 50 Million Dollars Repealing ACA After It’s Been Ruled Into Law!!! Wake The Hell Up People Get These No Good Ass Bullies And Thugs Out Of Offices Come Next Year And Beyond!!!

  2. charleo1 says:

    I guess we now know what it takes to get the budget obsessed,”Conservatives,”
    the champs of the perpetual filibuster, GOP Senators, to loosen the purse strings,
    and spend a cool 30 billion. No, it wasn’t the shell shocked, workers, laid off in a vicious, life changing recession. Nor, the common sense investments, that would
    have put many of those construction crews, hammered so hard by the housing crash. Back to work, with a desperately needed paycheck, rebuilding long ignored, and badly in need of repair, roads, bridges, electric grids, sewer pipes… No! They insisted, the unemployment checks that were running out for millions of worried Americans. Many that had voted for these very Senators. Senators that had lifted the rules, and
    allowed this calamity that was now impacting the lives of their constituents. Turned
    up their big fat noses, and said, no. So, what’s changed? They are now ready to
    spend 10 times the money a small extension of benefits would have cost. At least it was keeping the lights on. A little gas in the car, to continue to show up for interviews.
    Must be something mighty important! We’ve been attacked? We have a balloon
    payment to China coming due? No. This is about the GOPs sorry political situation
    with the Latinos. So, please spare no expense! Good for nothing self serving louses.

    • Dominick Vila says:

      I agree. Instead of building a modern and efficient infrastructure, ranging from better roads and bridges to a state of the art power grid, and modern ports and airports, we are spending $30B building additional fences that make a mockery of everything this country stands for. I wish Messrs Boehner, Cantor, Ryan and the rest of them would tear down that wall!

      • charleo1 says:

        Exactly! That wall, might be keeping starving Americans out of
        Mexico, one of these days! Greater ironies have occurred.

        • sigrid28 says:

          This is the plot of “The Day after Tomorrow” (2004), in which the climate changes to Arctic in much of North of America, and Mexico graciously accepts Americans fleeing south.

          Also on cable television, this afternoon (6/24/13), on Fox News, the claim that a fence along the border was supposed to have been built by law, but it was left incomplete (the 700 miles “to be continued” now). Here’s the kicker: Megan Kelly of Fox News asks, “Why should we believe any law Congress passes this time?”

          This leads me to believe that even with the sweetener of the Border Surge, the immigration bill cannot pass in the House unless Boehner allows it to come to a vote without resorting to the Hastert rule. It may not pass even then–because of objections from the right, but also, from the left. I wish the Senate would keep it a bit longer and subject it to some more sausage making. If the Border Surge remains in its current form–in combination with the denial of earned Social Security benefits to immigrants eventually granted citizenship–the bill in its current form seems to me to be stuffed with too many deal breakers.

          • Fern Woodfork says:

            What Do You Expect From The GOP/Tea Party American Taliban Our Very Own Home Grown Terrorists Cells ?? Screwing Over People Is One Of The Things They Do Best!! 🙁

  3. Dominick Vila says:

    The renewed emphasis on Berlin-style walls and increasing the number of border patrol agents tell me that the, alleged, determination to reform our flawed immigration laws is just an illusion being used to portray a semblance of humanity and statesmanship that continues to be conspicuous by its absence.
    If one of the objectives for immigration reform is to end the quota system that encourages foreign professionals from certain countries to come to the USA legally, while denying entry to semi-skilled workers from other countries whose labor and work ethics are in high demand in the USA, tell me that there is no intention to change the law insofar as granting and expediting the issuance of visas to allow future Latino immigrants to enter the USA legally.
    Why do we need more fences and border patrol agents when future immigrants can simply apply for an entry visa and come to the USA legally? It is becoming obvious that the focus is on the preservation of the status quo to ensure certain sectors of our economy continue to prosper at the expense of pseudo slaves. A few bones are bound to be thrown for the purpose of buying votes in the future, but the root cause of the problem is likely to remain as is.

    • Independent1 says:

      And in addition to the fact that experience has proven that border fences do little if anything to prevent someone from crossing the border if they are really intent at doing so, many are ignoring the fact that border fences are very destructive to the environment, creating flooding conditions in some places; often displacing people from their homes and/or greatly restricting their access to water or other portions of their land that they depend on. This has already resulted in some deaths because very poor people were prevented from getting to food sources they had depended on. Not to mention that building the fence has created negative relationships between the U.S. and Mexico because of the similar negatives that it has created in Mexico.

      Also, border fence negatives Include the potential elimination and destruction of the normal migration patterns of many wildlife and endangered species. Here’s an excerpt from a study done by the University of Texas on the fence built on the Tex/Mex border:

      Construction of the proposed border wall will degrade and fragment over 500 acres of land, of which over 400 serve as wildlife habitat. Destruction and/or alteration of this habitat will impose additional stress on wildlife in a region that has already been cleared of 95% of its native vegetation. Major wildlife impacts from border wall construction include at least the following: increased road mortality along access and patrol roads, loss of habitat cover and connectivity, altered wildlife behavior and range due to high intensity lightning/construction/operational noise, and the interruption of mating activities necessary to sustain wildlife populations over time. These effects are significant and irreversible, and fly in the face of DHS’s conclusion that the construction of a border fence “would not significantly increase impediments” to wildlife movement and migration in its vicinity.
      The wall segments described in the Rio Grande Valley DEIS could imperil the recovery of endangered species in the project area including the ocelot and jaguarondi. The ocelot and jaguarondi are tropical species at the northern limit of their natural habitat range. The barrier that would be created by the border wall would almost certainly expedite the disappearance of these species from the U.S. and could essentially nullify decades of cost‐ and labor‐intensive planning, restoration, and recovery efforts. Habitat connectivity has been shown to be extremely critical in the outer range of a species distribution, where resources are typically smaller, more isolated, and lower in quality. Border wall construction and maintenance will further isolate resource patches and prevent critical dispersal events from occurring.

    • sigrid28 says:

      Agreed, Dominick. The unfortunate term “surge” suggests the euphemism for an outsized military expansion, like that in Iraq and in Afghanistan, where the neocons’ agenda served only to line the pockets of their cronies in the military industrial complex (all that fencing, all those combat ready uniforms and arms) and failed to bring any substantive conclusion to years of armed conflict. “Years of armed conflict” is a good way to explain what has been going on on the southern border of the U.S. Apart from that, very little else, except stepped up deportations, has approached improving the situation for the United States and its immigrant population awaiting proper documentation.

      I hope better sense prevails among Democrats and they vote this ridiculous excess down immediately, both in the House and Senate. I would be very surprised if even the most craven Republicans, who are demanding these kind of clown olympics at the border to vote for a bill, will eventually vote for ANY comprehensive immigration bill to pass. Democrats have no business passing the bill in this condition, no matter what they do. Many people in the country desperately need real immigration reform, while Congress is just clowning around in the bigtop.

  4. Catskinner says:

    It sounds like a really good idea. It would give the returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan something constructive to do. Of course, the entire country would be better off if the bill goes to die in the House.

    • docb says:

      This is a cowardly ruse from the fiscally irresponsible repub baggers who do not want immigration reform but want the cheap labor..They will succeed in placing sheriff Arpaio type racist thugs on the border with a $40BILLION DOLLAR ISRAELI STYLE FENCE that we do not need with undocumented entrance being at NET _ZERO!

      More BS from baggers that do not want to govern but only obstruct!

      • Catskinner says:

        I would agree. That fact that illegal aliens drive down the value of labor is another good reason to keep them out.

        • jmprint says:

          You need to place blame where is goes. If an employer is hiring undocumented illegals, then they are breaking the law.

          Who kept your ancestors out?

          • Catskinner says:

            Suits me. Employers who hire illegal aliens ought to be in jail. There wasn’t anybody here to keep my ancestors out.

          • Ford Truck says:

            You say “There wasn’t anybody here to keep my ancestors out.” The only way that can be true is if you are full blooded Native American? American was not an empty wasteland when Europeans stumbled upon it. When the first Europeans can here, there were millions of people, living in many varied, vibrant cultures. Then the European came and committed genocide on as many Natives as they could to steal their land!

          • Catskinner says:

            I’m related to Kennewick Man, so my ancestors were here when all those Asians came across the Bering Ice Bridge.

          • Ford Truck says:

            Now I know you’re crazy! Carbon dating places Kennewick man at between 9,300 and 9,600 years ago. Clovis people were in the Americas at least 13,000 years ago and there were likely people here prior to Clovis.

          • Catskinner says:

            Yes, but there were several migrations across the Bering Ice Bridge, the last one probably a thousand years ago, during the mini-ice-age. And you’re also right that a number of pre-Clovis cultures have been uncovered. The last time I looked the two oldest were in Ohio and Florida. Which tells you that the closer you get to Europe, the older the findings become.

  5. LaRae Bailey says:

    they can not give one damned honest answer as to why this bill is so great for america… they are lying thru their teeth when they tell us how great it is going to be for us. I simply can not believe there are so many stupid americans who can not see what is really going on here and flood the whitehouse phones lines with demands this bill be thrown out. this bill will cost we the tax payers in the trillions, and for what? lower wages, less jobs, more translators, more overcrowded schools, more on the welfare roles, oh wait.. it is for the mexican vote and not one more damned thing. both parties think these mexicans will all vote their way thus insuring one party or the other a lifetime of democratic or republican rule. thes assholes in politics are giving this country away for illegal aliens votes. shame on everyone who allows or helps them do it. compassion my ass. illegal is illegal and amnesty is a reward for breaking the law..while american nonviolent prisoners sit in jail for years on bullshit pot charges…where is their amnesty? the illegal aliens are getting all these helping hands of freebies and american tax payers benefits while americans are homeles, hungry, cant afford dental work that medicaid dont pay for, and homes falling apart but no agency will help them, american students who can not afford college but illegals can all go to college free of charge, live in govt housing americans wait for 2-3 years to get into , illegals go to the front of the line for medical and welfare benefits while american tax payers are told..oh well you make 10.00 too much so you do not qualify.. this govt is trying to tell us how much these people will deduct from the national debt which is the biggest lie of all.. they will each one cost the tax payer over 7,000 a year over and above the jobs they take from us and the lower wages that will be offered when 33 million more workers show up for the same jobs americans need. these politicians voted out every american worker protection the few good guys tried to put into this bill.. it is all and only about protecting the illegals not one american. you think this country has troubles now, if you allow them to pass this bill, it will be the end of america as you know it. it will be little mexico and governed by the millions of muslims obama is bringing into this country on the sly. he is the most dangerous person this country has ever had the displeasure to meet.

    • Jim Myers says:

      And to think I spent years in the military to protect your right to spew racist, hateful crap about a subject that you obviously have no intelligent, cognitive skills to address.

      You should be a politician. Then you could get paid to spread manure everywhere.

    • jmprint says:

      LaRae, you are repeating the jargon that those who caused the problems in the United States want you to repeat. And you start by calling Americans stupid, because they can see the bigger picture.

      1). Lower wages: Problem: cost of living raises should have implemented as the cost of living was going up. False assumption is that companies would go under, and close the doors. They would continuing striving because people with more wage spend more and buy more of their products.

      The complaint should be about large corporation that give working visas to high tech people from other countries and pay them huge wages, those people do not spend their monies in this country, they invest in their country taking our high tech job and leave Americans with college degrees without jobs.

      2). More translators: This is a very bad misconception. My grandmother was born in the United States and so were her parents. She spoke spanish only, it was never a deterrent to her, she didn’t expect the government to change rules to accommodate her. She lived a very productive life, without government assistance, why, because most people that are uneducated are survivors. I didn’t need a translator when I started first grade I only spoke spanish.

      3). Over crowed schools: The immigrants that become citizens will pay taxes just like you and me and those taxes are used to build more schools.

      4). More on welfare: Remember these immigrants are already here helping our economy grow. They are working, doing our laundry, packing our foods, cooking our foods, doing our yards. And those that have a better opportunity are becoming doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs.

      Think about about what made America what it is today: The migrations of many ethnic cultures, working together to help each other as good human beings do.

      Now, think about what is dragging this country down: Greed, Greed and more Greed and there is racism, but NO ONE human race is better than the other. We are all equal, no matter what the color of your skin, or the language you speak. All God’s children.

    • 4sanity4all says:

      LaRae, you have so many things wrong, I do not even know where to start. First of all, many of the things you imagine illegals are getting from the government for free are NOT being given to them, because you need a social security number to apply for it, and they cannot get one. Second, the President is NOT bringing Muslims into the country on the sly. And he is a practicing Christian. His father was Muslim, I think, but he didn’t live with his father except for a short time, and his mother sent him to Christian church. Did you know that President Obama has cut more waste and fraud in government programs than any other President? And the National Debt has risen less during his term than under any President since Eisenhower. He is not dangerous, he is a very good father and husband, and a fine President, and I am proud to call him my President.

  6. ObozoMustGo says:

    The entire co-called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill” has now grown to over 1000 pages and is just another one of these rediculous pork-barrel, profligate spending sprees like almost all legislation that has come out of that den of inequity called Congress in the past 20+ years. Here is the Congress, elected by American citizens (mostly) to represent the AMERICAN CITIZEN bending over backwards for ILLEGAL ALIENS that have broken the laws enacted by AMERICAN CITIZENS. How absolutely flucked up is that????? We live in crazy world. And half of you idiots in this sewer called The Memo actually support the destruction of your own country because you have bought the lie that allowing invaders who have broken our laws to be rewarded is somehow compassionate. Where is the compassion for the AMERICAN CITIZEN instead of the illegal aliens?

    Don’t be so stupid, people. Those crooks in Congress are screwing ALL of us, right and left, conservative and liberal. These people constantly vote for and pass legislation that they haven’t even read and have no intention of reading. Look at what that piece of garbage and crook John Conyers said about this immigration bill:

    “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill,’” said Rep. John Conyers. “What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”

    Can you frigging believe it? A sitting member of the Congress of the United States of America openly admitting that he won’t read legislation that affects ALL American’s lives before he votes on it. I am telling you people, until we citizens out here from all sides of the spectrum begin to understand that our government is no longer servent to us, the American citizen, but is now a Leviathan growing out of control for its own benefit while converting us into its subjects, until then, we are going to get screwed harder and we are going to witness the collapse of our nation. This bill is yet another nail in the coffin of America.

    Have a nice day!

    “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctively American criminal class except congress.” — Mark Twain

    • daniel bostdorf says:

      Good to see the troll “obozomustgo” is back: hiding behind a fake name as usual…photo attached…

      Here obozo is described:

      A social media troll as someone who seeks to lure or bait people into negative, disruptive rhetoric for their own edification or to commandeer an otherwise free-flowing discussion among colleagues. They don’t recognize anyone that may be interested in discussing something that bores them and opt to criticize or yell “boring” instead of engaging in the discussion. They choose to belittle those who seek the information and discourse as well as those who try to provide it. They simply have no interest in anything that is not self-serving. Trolls will defend their focus on expressing contrary opinions as an honorable attempt to rid the online community of fake-experts, get to the truth of a matter or enlighten their followers; however, their intent has nothing to do with community building or public enlightenment.

  7. Robert W Maule says:

    One important fact has been ignored in all recent discussions of the illegal alien problem. A Pew Research study determined that about 45 percent of illegal aliens entered our country legaly with visas or other vwlid documentation. They became “illegal” subsequently by overstaying, accepting unauthorized employment or otherwise violated the terms ef their admission to rhe country. No wall,nor any border “army” can solve the problem.
    The only solution is to deny employment to all illegal aliens. The original “gang of eight” bill included strenthened sanctions against the employers of illegal aliens and established a successor of the e-verify system that employers must use to determine the status of potential employees. I hope that the final bill has retained those provisions. Actnally, they should be further strenghened and implemented more quickly.
    The uslessness of the wall and more agents should add to the outcry against the costs involved.

  8. Lynda Groom says:

    The Great Wall of China was about 5000 miles long when you included the trenches and alike used in addition to the stone walls. That one sure did not work out too well.

  9. howa4x says:

    can’t fund school lunches but doubling the borders patrol is so republican. As long as it has to do with guns or violence you can count the repub’s in

  10. daniel bostdorf says:

    Believe it or not, I agree with Donna Weisner, the very conservative GOP member of the Reagan administration, when she really nails it when critiquing wall building to keep out immigration. Building fences to keep outsiders away has played out throughout human history. Beside fortressed cities or the Berlin Wall, the Great Wall of China still stands as a massive fortress of earth and stone fortifications originally built in the 5th century B.C. and maintained though the 16th Century A.D., measures approximately 5,500 miles, including 3,889.5 miles of actual wall, 360 miles of trenches and 1,387.2 miles of hills and rivers. It was designed to protect the inhabitants against invading armies, in particular the nomadic Manchurian and Mongolian tribes threatening to murder the 14th Century Ming dynasty rulers and invade their kingdoms.

    Today’s border surge proposal with border agents and fence illustrates a lack of understanding of the logistics and costs, the historical motivations driving U.S. immigration, and ignores a profound systemic change that must be achieved in order to address illegal immigration problems in a sustainable and cost efficient manner.

    Conason sums it up best:

    “There is no longer an immigration emergency, if there ever was one. So before rushing to bring on 20,000 more agents, U.S. authorities need to establish the rule of law, order, and justice within the Border Patrol itself. The alternative involves too much risk, with too much expense, for too little reason.”

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