of uninvited visitors
U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) says he was outraged to learn recently that more than 4,000 illegal aliens cross into the United States unlawfully in a single day -- most of whom arrive via the Mexican border.
Camp, who serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Border and Infrastructure Security, was stunned by a Time Magazine article entitled “Who Left the Door Open.“ The article notes that in addition to many Mexican citizens fleeing their country for opportunities in the U.S., there have also been border crossers from from Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Russia, China, Egypt, Iran and Iraq.
“There is some evidence that the crossings are not just people from Mexico,“ Camp noted in a phone interview. “There are people from some countries who are finding that the Mexican border is the back door to the United States.“
Last week, Camp questioned Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on the matter, asking whether enough is being done to address Americas abysmal ability to manage its southern border.
Camp believes that the number of illegal visitors entering the U.S. could range as high as one million (by Time Magazine‘s estimate it‘s 1,460,000) and says that with millions being spent on Homeland Securities, the department should be more accountable.
We have clamped down at our airports, at our seaports and at many of our border crossings. We have taken many positive steps, but what is happening at the Mexico border is unacceptable, said Camp. Prior to 9/11, this was a huge social and economic problem. Today, the southern border is a threat to our homeland security.
He notes that for now, the Canadian border doesn‘t warrant the same level of concern as what‘s happening in the Southwest.
“We haven‘t seen as much traffic on the northern border. Partly it‘s a matter of geographic boundaries with bridges or tunnels to cross to get into Michigan.“
Although a new fence is being constructed in the San Diego area to stem the tide of intruders in California, Camp notes that there are hundreds of miles of open border in Arizona.
In response, over 1,500 new border patrol agents have been hired along the Mexico border and unmanned surveillance vehicles have been deployed. Camp adds that new technology has also been introduced to check I.D.s of newcomers to the U.S., as well as the veracity of cargoes and container ships. Visa requirements have also been tightened since 9/11.
Still, the problem of intruders remains a major concern. “Many of them feel that why should they go to all of the difficulty to obtain a visa when they can just walk across the border.“