Our border is not remotely secure.
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about border security.
Earlier this week I attended a Sheriff’s Conference in Arizona on border security. As the sheriff of a non-border county, I was interested in seeing firsthand the reality on the ground. It’s worse than any media portrays. Let me be clear on one thing: Border security and immigration are not the same topic. They are definitively intertwined but not mutually inclusive.
In the last 19 months millions of illegal immigrants have crossed our border. Many are simply looking for a better life and are great people. However, by definition under U.S. law their entry into our country is illegal because they have not followed the correct process. Immigration is a separate issue that Congress must solve. But it’s not border security.
Everyone who comes over the border pays the cartel thousands of dollars. The cartels make millions of dollars a month smuggling human beings.
Many of those people can’t afford the fee, they end up working off their debt as functional slaves.
Over four million have been caught in the last 19 months. Over one million “got aways” escaped apprehension. Thousands are convicted criminals. Dozens are on the Terror Watch List.
Immigrants have been caught from 160 countries. Mexico is becoming a route, not the source, for immigrants.
Over 1,000 immigrants have died in their attempt. The Border Patrol has saved thousands of lives. One local rancher has found 16 bodies on his ranch.
“Doctors Without Borders” estimates that 30 percent of the female immigrants have been raped or sexually assaulted by the cartels.
The opioid crisis killed 105,000 Americans last year. Ninty-five percent of the fentanyl comes over the southern border. Securing the border will certainly help avert the crisis.
The best analogy I have is homelessness. We secure our homes, lock our doors and keep our belongings insides. We also provide assistance, programs and services to the homeless.
Our country, founded by immigrants, needs to do the same. We need to start with a secure border. Then we need Congress to revamp our immigration system to provide a safe and effective way for people to enter our country. Congress must act now!
Jeff Dirkse is the sheriff of Stanislaus County.