Andrea Billups and Jennifer G. Hickey, Newsmax, January 25, 2014
As Congress prepares to take up immigration reform, two high-profile Arizona sheriffs tell Newsmax the federal government’s effort to secure the border has been a dismal failure.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said bluntly: “The border is not secure.”
“I’m telling you that as somebody on the ground, as someone who experiences it every day. This is a lie that is being peddled by those who must convince the American people that it is secure and everything is just fine,” Babeu told Newsmax.
“We have the most active drug and smuggling corridor in the country,” he added, saying that the intersection of major interstates, as well as rural and side roads and vast terrain, make it the perfect area for illegal immigrants coming to this country.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio echoes that view: “Drugs are still coming, illegal aliens are still coming into the U.S.,” he told Newsmax.
“You can’t just say we must secure the border first and then we’ll look at illegal immigration. That border will never be secure.
“Why not say we are going to enforce the U.S. immigration laws, not only on the Mexican border, but on all the borders around the country?”
The House will likely take up several measures advanced by the House Judiciary Committee.
A Judiciary aide told Newsmax that the committee has taken a “step-by-step approach to immigration reform, carefully and methodically reviewing each component in detail so that we get immigration reform right.”
That approach, said the aide, relies on guaranteeing enforcement of immigration laws and securing the border first, improving legal immigration programs, and finding an “appropriate” means to deal with the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.
Pinal, a massive county larger than some states located about 70 miles from the Mexican border, has seen its share of problems and they are growing worse, Babeu said, noting that any claims by the Obama administration that border crimes are on the decline are misguided.
Unemployment in the county of around 400,000 people is about 21 percent, a disincentive for many illegals who cross the border to find work.
Nevertheless, recent figures from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) show a 16 percent increase in border arrests in 2013, after dropping 42 percent following the 2008 recession. Along the Southwest border alone, apprehensions jumped from 327,577 in 2011 to 414,397 last year.
The Heritage Foundation has outlined what it terms “conservative principles” that should guide any immigration reform efforts, calling for Republicans to reject proposals that offer any kind of amnesty.
According to Heritage, U.S. taxpayers will pay as much as $6 trillion in net future costs if unlawful immigrants gain amnesty and access to the full range of government benefits, including welfare and entitlement programs.