|Photo released by conservative website Breitbart shows|
crowded conditions at station for detaining illegal immigrants,
many of whom are from Central America.
Since the mid-2000's effort to secure the border with a fence, the security of the border has been a major driver of US policy, a trend the continues to this day, especially now.
With thousands of illegal immigrant minors crossing the border, the effectiveness of the fence and the validity of the Obama administration's earlier assertions of security at the border are rightly being questioned.
CAB News Online is based in Brownsville, Texas, (and will be for the next month) and is in a unique place to understand the crisis at the border. For years, local news stations have reported of human trafficking and drug smuggling across the Rio Grande with little notice from national new networks.
In a 2013 press conference with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, President Obama said, "Our shared border is more secure than it’s been in years. Illegal immigration attempts into the United States are near their lowest level in decades.”
In 2014, however, border crossings spiked. Many of the illegal immigrants were minors or their parents. With apprehensions climbing higher and higher, the situation at the border developed into a crisis.
The question now posed is this: How secure is border really?
First is the issue of the fence. In many cases, it was built a distance away from the Rio Grande, which forms the border between the US and Mexico. Many illegal immigrant wishing to cross into the US would be able to do so without crossing the fence. It was not until they moved further into the United States that they would encounter the fence.
In addition, the fence's metal is rusty, which makes it easier for any person to climb it and cross over. According to one source, a person working on the fence was able to scale the fence with little difficulty because of the sandpaper-like traction.
It may be easy to conclude the border was never really as secure as the President made it sound; however, one detail of the current border crisis must also be addressed. Many of illegal immigrants were not caught, but instead turned themselves in. With this as the case, it could stand to reason that the border is secure (but without statistics detailing how many illegal immigrants cross into the US without being caught by border patrol, it cannot be known for sure).
Other pieces of evidence seem to contradict this. KRGV, the ABC and CNN affiliate for the Rio Grande Valley, where many of the border crossings occur, reported a story about a teen smuggler who was smuggling illegal immigrants near La Joya, Texas. The incident resulted in the death of two Guatemalans.
In response to the ongoing wave of border crossings, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) ordered the national guard to aid in the search for criminals, such as drug cartel members, crossing the border.
In the wake of this and other incidents, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters, "The border is secure," citing Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM). Republicans criticize him as being out of touch with the situation on the border, saying that while certain border sectors are secure, others are not.
In addition, concerns over immigration loopholes persist. For example, illegal immigrants from Central America are offered certain legal protections not afforded to illegal immigrants who are Mexican nationals. Concerns over immigrants using minors who are not their children (though they claim them to be) in order to avoid deportation have also been expressed.
Regardless of the political aspects of the border crisis, the humanitarian crisis continues. The federal government has through the Border Patrol and other agencies has set up stations to house illegal immigrants. Private groups and charities have also contributed to the effort. Catholic Charities of Dallas has launched a campaign to provide legal representation to unaccompanied minors. Other groups have also provided limited support in caring for those housed at the stations. According to a member of a church group who was helping the government in feeding those detained, the food given to them consisted of bare-boned burritos and other lackluster foods.
In addition, the border crisis has brought the conditions of Central America and the perilous trek through Mexico by immigrants into focus. Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador rank among some of the most dangerous countries in the world. Many immigrants have claimed to be threatened by gangs and other criminal syndicates. Also, many of the immigrants, including minors, have been claimed to be raped on their dangerous journey through across the Mexico-Guatemala border through Mexico. Many immigrants have died on the journey through Mexico and rural South Texas counties.