“No drop in migrant flow or death” was the headline that greeted me while I read the Tucson Citizen’s lead article online today. It reminded me that while Congress tries to figure out a way to discuss Immigration Reform in a civilized fashion, people are still dying in our desert.
The Arizona Border Control Initiative (ABC) is marking its one year anniversary today. President Bush claims he doesn’t like to use Band-Aids to fix problems yet he doesn’t have the guts to tackle Immigration Reform in a way that provides any solutions. He is using his old tactic of allowing Homeland Security to provide political cover for his failed initiatives.
Arizona Border Control Initiative is the largest effort to control illegal immigrants through Arizona since the state became the most popular crossing point in the late 1990s. For the first time last year, Arizona accounted for more than 50 percent of all apprehensions along the southern border, more than California and New Mexico combined.
The initiative included 260 more agents, 28 Humvees and two new helicopters, as well as a pilot drone program and $1 million in underground sensors. The initial six months was budgeted to cost $10 million, but eventually cost $28 million, $13 million of which went to voluntary repatriation flights to Mexico during the summer. [Emphasis mine]
This is yet another example of the Bush Administration’s failure to give the American people the facts regarding their program costs. They spent 280% more than was budgeted. The problem with programs like ABC is that it doesn’t actually solve anything, it merely shuts down a part of the border, funneling people to other areas that are remote and treacherous during the summer months.
Not even original supporters of ABC see the benefits.
“I don’t think you could label the ABC a success,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., who supported the idea but criticizes the implementation. “It certainly has not reduced by any measurable amount that anybody can determine the number of illegal immigrants coming across the border.”
As long as Immigration Reform continues to enter into the public discussion under the premise of Homeland Security, we are never going to “fix” the problem. It’s time we Democrats start making noise about the economic and human-rights issues that are involved with respect to the US-Mexico border and immigration. Until real dialogue happens on our terms and not the President’s, people will continue to die.