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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/20/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Experts cite 'severe humanitarian toll on migrants,' which are mounting

A recent study on drug trafficking and illegal immigration says that while the problems posed by illegal border passage along the U.S.-Mexico border are very real, attempts to bolster efforts - such as increasing the ranks of the Border Patrol, would have diminishing returns.

A recent study on drug trafficking and illegal immigration says that while the problems posed by illegal border passage along the U.S.-Mexico border are very real, attempts to bolster efforts - such as increasing the ranks of the Border Patrol, would have diminishing returns.

A recent study on drug trafficking and illegal immigration says that while the problems posed by illegal border passage along the U.S.-Mexico border are very real, attempts to bolster efforts - such as increasing the ranks of the Border Patrol, would have diminishing returns.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/20/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: U.S., Mexico, border, drug trafficking, illegal immigrants


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a collaboration of the Washington Office on Latin America, or WOLA and Mexico's College of the Northern Border or COLEF, says that additional steps are needed, a more forceful effort would actually hurt, particularly at a time of record federal deficits.

"In fact, a closer look at the border reveals that after a historic build-up of the U.S. security presence there, further increases in money, barriers and manpower are unnecessary," the report entitled "Beyond the Border Buildup." Says. The report calls for the U.S. to reassess its border strategies and invest more in the Office of Field Operations, which remains an understaffed and overworked agency manning the country's ports of entry.

"The threats that actually exist don't justify them, and the side effects - among them a severe humanitarian toll on migrants - are mounting," the report said. "It is urgent that Washington view the border security buildup as a past policy, not a direction for the present or future."

Both the U.S. and Mexico are engaged in presidential elections in which border and migration issues are expected to play an important role.

Republican presidential candidates, with the exception of Texas Rep. Ron Paul have all supported stronger measures to better "control the border." Among the methods discussed are increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and completing construction of a fence along the entire frontier.

Fewer than 4,000 Border Patrol personnel were deployed to the southwestern border 20 years ago. That number has more than quadrupled since, exceeding 18,000 in 2011.

The Pentagon has since become increasingly involved in enforcement, deploying troops to back up the Border Patrol, build roads, and collect intelligence, such as flying reconnaissance drones on both sides of the border.

Hundreds of armed National Guard troops from states across the country have also been deployed at any one time since 2006. These troops are primarily for ground and air surveillance, although their numbers and the budget to support their deployment have recently been reduced.

Increased security have grown apace after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon and has been fuelled by dire claims by prominent politicians and the media about the alleged threats of massive illegal immigration, drug trafficking, violence and terrorism crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.

According to Adam Isacson, WOLA's senior associate for regional security and one of the report's lead authors Of those four threats, "three have either never materialized or been reduced."

While drug seizures have indeed increased markedly in recent years, the government has yet to report a single case of a terrorist crossing the border, Isacson says.

According to the report, the decline can be attributed to several things: among them, the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the availability of jobs for migrants in the U.S. and increased risks faced by migrants travelling through Mexico to the U.S.

A version of this story was first published by Inter Press Service news agency.

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