The attraction to America is undeniable, but those who are attracted aren’t always just looking for a better way of life. I had the opportunity to speak with a Border Patrol officer in Southern California who wished to remain anonymous. He spoke about the threat illegal immigration imposes on Americans. Many agree that illegal immigration directly correlates to the lack of jobs available, high medical costs, overpopulated prisons, poor education, congested freeways and higher crime rates. These are only a few of the results produced by illegal immigration, but fixing these issues is vital for the future of America.
When it comes to whom illegal immigrants are, the Border Patrol officer says “There are a certain amount of people in the group that are just looking for a better life. They’re hardworking people and they are coming here to do what people have done for many, many years, come here for opportunity. But there’s also a certain amount of those people that are career criminals, you know… they’re trying to manipulate the system. They just come here and break laws, not pay taxes, and benefit from all the public programs and that type of stuff.”
The amount of illegal aliens who break laws will never be known for sure, but those that were caught provide some pretty terrifying insight. The Government Accountability Office, (GAO), released a study it conducted in 2005 of 55,322 incarcerated illegal aliens. The study population averaged 8 arrests each…97% had more than one arrest and an astonishing 26% had over eleven arrests. This only included crimes committed in the US. How many crimes they each committed in their country of origin are unknown.
Each illegal alien in the study averaged 13 offenses and 24% of those offenses were for drug crimes. About 12% were for murder, robbery, assault and sexually related crimes. 21% of offenses were immigration offenses. The other offenses included property related offenses, traffic violations, fraud and obstruction of justice.
“The illegal aliens that we catch have priors like driving under the influence, domestic violence…those two are like a dime a dozen,” the Border Patrol officer said. The GAO study found that 80% of all arrests occurred in California, Texas and Arizona. California accounted for 58% of the total amount of illegal aliens arrested. And, by 2009, an additional 910,000 illegal aliens had entered the US, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
If you think that getting arrested and deported is a deterrent for illegal immigrants, you are highly mistaken. Wayne Cornelius, director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego said, "Even if they are caught, they try again until they are successful," at a congressional hearing on immigration held in San Diego in 2006.
It might not be as hard as you think to get through the American borders either. "Our research shows that 92 to 97 percent of them succeed on the first or second try," Cornelius said.
When asked if after being deported illegal aliens stay out of America, The Border Patrol officer agrees, “No, they’re gonna try again and again until they finally make it.”
Illegal aliens arrested for less serious crimes often don’t show up to their court hearings either. According to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at the end of fiscal year 2008, there were 557,762 fugitive alien cases left unsolved.
As the Border Patrol officer mentioned, many of the illegal aliens come to America to benefit from programs such as our health care system. California’s border counties incurred $79 million in emergency care for illegal aliens, the highest cost in the country according the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, hospitals with emergency rooms are required to treat and stabilize patients with emergency medical needs regardless of whether or not they are in the country legally or whether they are able to pay for the treatment.
The closer the proximity of a hospital to the US border the more susceptible it is to a high rate of illegal aliens seeking medical care. Tony Struthers, hospital administrator for Saddleback Memorial Medical Center San Clemente says, “People can come up here and get care pretty easily from Mexico. The law says you can’t ask, you gotta take care of them. You gotta provide a screening and stabilize that patient. If you don’t we can get fined and lose our license,” says Struthers.
Struthers used to work in Arizona and he fully understands the added strain from states with high illegal immigration rates. “Border states absolutely there’s more of an issue because once again we are required to take care of [illegal aliens]. Of anyone who shows up,” he adds.
FAIR estimated the medical cost of treating illegal immigrants in California in 2004 to be $1.5 billion. Today that figure would be much higher. And it is those people who currently have health insurance that foot the bill.
“We are required to treat them, but the government is not required to pay for them, so the only way we can recover that is to raise our rates higher for those people that do have insurance,” says Struthers.
If you have health insurance and you are treated at a hospital, “You’re paying for those who came before you who didn’t have insurance,” he says. Those who came before you aren’t always American citizens.
For hospitals, rising costs have become an escalating problem. And while hospitals close to US borders see a larger amount of illegal aliens utilizing their facilities Struthers says, “Illegal immigration is just a subset of that bigger problem.”
There are an estimated 822 illegal aliens crossing the US borders on a daily basis according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Many of them are entering America for jobs, some for health services, some to commit crimes and transport drugs, and a few for other reasons. One of those reasons that should be a major concern for US citizens is terrorism.
The Border Patrol officer says, “We don’t only deal with Mexicans. We deal with people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras. You know, any country, you name it. A lot of ‘em come through Mexico because that’s just the way it works. They get themselves to Mexico and they try to get smuggled north from there.” The only way to know who is crossing the US border illegally is to catch them, bring them to the Border Patrol station and identify them. Open borders mean easy access for those who plan attacks on American soil.
When it comes to terrorism the Border Patrol officer says, “That’s one of our big concerns.” He mentions that ever since 9/11, The Border Patrol has tightened their procedures.
When it comes to our borders, “They are more secure than they were 10 years ago, that’s for damn sure. But It could be better and hopefully it will be better,“ the officer says.
Decreasing the incentives for illegal immigrants to come to America by cracking down on employers who hire them and taking away taxpayer-funded benefits is a good way to reduce the flow of illegal immigration. The Border Patrol officer explains that we need to increase internal checkpoints. He said that once illegal aliens get far enough north, they no longer encounter immigration checkpoints and are home free. He also believes having military at our borders would increase our chances of keeping America and Americans safe. Amnesty, on the other hand, attracts more illegal aliens and more crime.
It is time for the US government to support our Border Patrol officers and tighten our illegal immigration policies in order to provide a safer country for us all. Arizona recently passed a law outlining a more stringent policy when dealing with illegal immigrants. Results from a bipartisan poll by Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies, conducted for America’s Voice, showed that 84% of voters supported the new law while only 12% opposed it. American citizens know that our Border Patrol officers are heroes.
The Border Patrol officer explained that in order for him to stay positive he must refrain from reading the press or watching the news, “It doesn’t seem like the government cares,” he said. He feels as though the media demonizes him and shows him as a “destroyer of dreams.” As a result of the media’s negative attention, he feels as though many citizens whom he works to protect on a daily basis oppose his efforts.
The Border Patrol officer says, “We are spending all this money to keep us safe abroad and forgetting to keep ourselves protected here at home.” Luckily he and his coworkers have been working hard to protect us. Now it is time to support what these heroes are trying to accomplish. They are stopping terrorists, drug dealers, rapists, murderers, and more. The least we can do is thank them.