1.04.2006

Kolbe Blisters Bill

"Unfortunately, the bill before us today does nothing to solve the real problems of immigration. In fact, it's worse than nothing. It's worse than nothing because it tries to fool the public. It pulls the wool over their eyes. It pretends we are doing something to secure our border when in fact we are doing nothing except throw words and money at the problem. Anyone who really cares about a solution to our immigration woes knows that border enforcement is one prong of a three-part solution. The first is enforcement - border enforcement and employer enforcement. Second, you also must have some means of allowing those who want to work, and are willing to work, (to) come legally into the United States to work on a temporary basis. And thirdly, you have to deal with the 10-11-12-million people who are already in this country illegally. Now that's the reality." From a speech by Rep. Jim Kolbe, as recounted in the Arizona Republic.

Kolbe's speech reinforces the thesis of Peter Andreas in Border Games: Policing The U.S.-Mexico Divide, that these high-profile displays of force are less about deterring illegal crossings and more about re-crafting the image of the border and symbolically reaffirming the state's territorial authority -- without actually accomplishing anything in the long haul.

The feds most recently proved this point with a 2001 GAO report about the effects of the last big show of force, Operation Gatekeeper and its offspring: "The primary discernable effect of the strategy, based on INS' apprehension statistics, appears to be a shifting of the illegal alien traffic. Between 1998 and 2000, apprehensions declined in three Border Patrol sectors, San Diego, CA, and El Paso and McAllen TX, but increased in five of the other six Southwest border sectors," the report states, and later adds that, "A study of migrant deaths along the Southwest border concluded that while migrants have always faced danger crossing the border and many died before INS began its strategy, the strategy has resulted in an increase in deaths from exposure to either heat or cold."

Check our bibliography for more background.