Border control

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Border Control
As of today, The United States of America is a country that faces several challenges and tough decisions: the war in the Middle East, homeland security and the domestic economy are some of the main topics right now. The US government has chosen to make the war in the Middle East the main topic and consequently has forgotten about the domestic problems that are occurring within its national borders. One of the main problems this country has is border control. The US spends a significant amount of money on airport security, which is something that the US government had to adjust to after the 9/11 attacks and the global crisis with militant Islam. However, while focusing on the war in the Middle East it seems clear that the US has forgotten to control the Mexican border. As a result of that, the US-Mexico border is wide open for illegal aliens, drugs and terrorists.
Today terrorists are not flying as much anymore. All they have to do is go to a drug cartel in Mexico and buy ticket. The cartel will give the terrorist a first class ticket into the US on his own secret “drug highway” where there is not border patrol for several miles. Sheriff Gonzalez from Zapata, Texas, said during a hearing in Washington D.C, “It is very possible these cartels may have already formed a nexus with members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations” and Governor Perry of Texas expressed his feeling on the issue like this:
“Al-Qaeda leadership plans to use criminal alien smuggling organizations to bring terrorist operatives across the border into the U.S. A vulnerable border also gives terrorists opportunities to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the U.S. undetected. There can be no homeland security in Texas without border security.”

The U.S. federal government spent over $19 billion in 2003 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $600 per second. The war on drugs is a government program to prevent substance abuse and drugs crossing the border. The budget has since been increased by over a billion dollars. The border control has a budget of $ 7.8 billion .It would be beneficial if the US government would spend more money on border control to stop the drugs from coming into the country in the first place. Then the US government would not have to spend so much money on the domestic war on drugs, and they would also have improved homeland security.
The US government should take measures to prevent this “highway” of drugs coming into the country. The US government is giving grants to Mexico to keep them on a zero tolerance policy against drugs. Yet, drugs in Mexico are a billon dollar industry. For Mexico the drugs generate a lot of money and labor for the people of the country, since Mexicos GNP per capita is $6,000, they are almost willing to do anything to get money, compared to the US GNP per capita of $38,000. To prevent Mexico from becoming dependent on drug money, the US gives Mexico grants so they could keep their domestic economy balanced and independent of drug money.
As President Richard Nixon described it, the war on drugs is an initiative undertaken by the United States to carry out an "all-out offensive." Yet, it didn’t kick in until President Reagan took care of business, and the war on drugs is a program that is supposed to punish both suppliers and buyers. The war on drugs combined the organization of law-enforcing agencies to fight drug trafficking, along with public campaigns against drug use, and was a new way of trying to handle the drug problem in the United States as well as in other countries. The war on drugs was based on the US giving financial support to the drug-producing countries so that they did not have to depend on drug trafficking to stabilize their domestic economy and in return, the governments of these countries had to accept a zero-tolerance attitude towards drugs. A zero tolerance attitude means that the country has to punish the drug criminals by the toughest punishment possible. If a country failed to live up to what the United States expected, they would lose their financial and human support from the US. The result of the war on drugs was mixed. It completely eliminated some of the drug dealing countries, but it also made some of the bigger drug dealing countries, like Mexico and Columbia, even bigger, because now they do not have as much competition and have more of an open market.
Instead, it seems like the US government should stimulate the companies in Mexico so they will be more desirable to the US and global market. One good way the US government has done that is the FAST program. The FAST program is a trading agreement between the US and Mexico. It’s profiled to help both sides ensure safety and security in their shipping. The companies that wish to be eligible for the FAST program have to meet certain requirements: They have to be certified by C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism). C-TPAT is a voluntary business agreement that international companies doing business with US companies can be a part of. They have to secure their manufacturing after C-TPAT standards, and the benefit that the companies get is that they are helping the US to control incoming goods, which makes them more desirable to the companies based in the US. The drivers of the trucks that are in the FAST program have to do a Commercial Driver Application, and if the driver is a low risk, he/she will be interviewed, fingerprinted and photographed. After they’re interviewed and documented, the FAST program officials decide if this person is a low risk. If that person is, he/she will be issued a FAST Commercial Driver Identification Card.
By January 17, 2005, 5,597 FAST cards had been issued to drivers at the Southwest border.
The military is top priority for the president, and it is very important to maintain freedom and safety in the domestic market. Still, the problem of today is that the US government is not prioritizing in the right way. They only see the terrorism in the Middle East, but they have for some reason forgotten that the number one way for terrorists to get in to the US is by the US-Mexico border. Since the US government is not helping out the local states and communities, they have been forced to take measures on their own. A project that has been very popular in the Southwest is the Operation Linebacker, which the Governor of Texas Rick Perry approved. The governors office says,
“Operation Linebacker was conceived by the Texas Border Sheriff''''s Coalition as a means to integrate law enforcement resources along the border to increase both public safety and national security between points of entry. Key aspects of the initiative include increased patrols and the support of the local community to enhance border security”

Operation Linebacker consists of different steps to make the border safer. One is to add more funds toward criminal justice, not just adding more officers but also to pay more overtime for the existing officers. Another one is to make the National Guard provide more homeland security to support the local law enforcement with training and exercise and to enhance the security along the border. Operation Linebacker is a great way and a great start to help the border. However, it feels wrong that only the taxpayers in Texas are paying for something that should be granted from the US government.
President Bush has made the War on Terrorism in the Middle East his mission, and it is vital for the safety of the US people and to maintain the reliability in the domestic market. Yet, the US administration in 2006 is budgeting $563 billion on the Military, which is 30% of the whole budget, and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is requesting a budget for $7, 8 billion. That’s approximately 1/72 of what the government spends on the military. Taken that in mind one can’t see why the US government does not spend more then 0.5% of their budget on something that is the closest threat to the homeland security, the US-Mexico border. Border control in the Southwest is doing a great job with the funds they have today. CBP are doing everything that’s in their power to keep a safe border. Still, they could do an even better job with more founding from the US government and more support from the government. The US government has to look over its budget and do a little change to how it is prioritized. Big changes are not necessary, but let’s say that CBP would get 1% of the budget instead of the 0.5% they have today, that would double the power they have today and it would improve the homeland security that President Bush wants. They should also continue to offer the different programs that stimulate Mexican companies and to help them do something other than drugs. The FAST program is a great example of that.
In conclusion it could been seen that the US government has to open its eyes and realize that the biggest threat to the homeland security may not be in the Middle East but instead just at the tip of its nose. Sometimes it’s hard to spot what’s just in front of you, and that’s the feeling one get, when one look at the border control problem. It’s to close to realize what potential it has. The US government needs to focus its attention on the US-Mexico border.


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Inactive member [2006-10-05]   Border control
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