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Make Border Deaths Part of Immigration Debate

June 07, 2013 (1 min read)

"People on a quest for a better life are not stopped by border infrastructure — unless it kills them.  And it too often does.  The boots-on-the-ground enforcement experts see the real problem.  “We all know that illegal immigration is a crime, but it’s not a crime you should lose your life over,” says Andy Adame spokesperson for the Border Patrol in Arizona.  Walls, agents, sensors, towers, drones and other whiz-bang border security stuff — bought with $106 billion over the past five years — have not stopped illegal immigration. They won’t stop it because poor people will take great risks to better their lives. They die of hope in our backyard. ... Without acknowledging the human motivations that drive them, this country cannot design effective immigration policies.  The “Gang of Eight” bill now before the full Senate pumps billions more into border security strategies — even though Homeland Security cannot measure the effectiveness of the current strategies.  Why do we continue to pursue an expensive, deadly approach that has not stopped illegal immigration?  The political answer is easy: Spending on border security is the fig leaf to cover Republican shame over supporting amnesty — and some of them feel the need for a great deal of cover.  Nobody should be ashamed of supporting a path to citizenship for 11 million people who have lived and worked in this country for years.  But we should all be ashamed of the deaths along our southern border. The spirits of thousands of dead men, women and children testify to the danger of throwing money for law-enforcement at a problem that is about mothers, fathers, sons and daughters reaching for a better life.  “As a Border Patrol agent, you see the suffering on a daily basis,” Adame says. “We see worse things than the average citizen does.”" - Linda Valdez, Arizona Republic, June 9, 2013.