Our View: Secure border not only issue of immigrants but of safety | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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Our View: Secure border not only issue of immigrants but of safety | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Border security is an extremely complicated issue — politically and logistically — but is also an increasingly dangerous and expensive issue.

The 2011-12 Texas budget includes a near doubling of the amount we spend on border security, from $108.5 million in the just-ended two-year budget to $219.5 million in the current plan.

Why? We’ve been told repeatedly states should stay out of the border security business as it’s the task of the federal government.

When Arizona became frustrated with the number of illegal aliens flowing across the border from Mexico, with illegal drugs passing into and beyond it and with the mounting violence that was part of the rampant lawlessness exhibited by foreigners and their citizen partners in crime, the federal government offered speeches and platitudes. When Arizona attempted to help the federal government by at least identifying and detaining those in the state illegally, the state was sued by a federal government that arguably needs all the help it can get.

Granted, securing the 1,959-mile border is a big job. One need only study a map to see its not a wide-open flat area in which trespassers are easy to spot or stop. In some areas, a fence makes sense. The 1,254-mile Texas-Mexico border, however, lies along the deepest channel of the Rio Grande as it flowed in 1848 — not exactly an ideal foundation for a border fence.

And, yes, the nation is spending roughly $9 billion a year in its attempt to secure the border, according to an Associated Press analysis.

The AP said funding for border security had tripled from 2001 to 2011 while 1.6 million illegal immigrants were detained in 2001 compared to 463,000 in 2010. From those statistics, one could reasonably conclude increased enforcement and the recession dampening opportunities on this side of the border had worked to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

However, the flow of drugs has not decreased. In 2010, the AP reported, a record amount of drugs were seized — but Mexican cartels responded by increasing shipments. In the meantime, the cartel-sponsored violence that has claimed more than 35,000 dead in Mexico periodically spills across the border.

What once was merely an issue of illegal immigrants in the country morphed into a multi-faceted monster of national security, personal safety, public health and economic stability.

When Gov. Rick Perry sent a bill to Washington requesting the state be reimbursed $349 million for the cost of incarcerating illegal immigrants who had committed crimes in Texas, it was dismissed as political grandstanding in his bid for the GOP presidential nomination. In reality, however, it was a reasonable request for the owner of the problem — the entity which claims singular authority for border security — to pick up the tab. Washington declined to ante up.

Now, Texas remains on the hook not only for jailing illegal immigrants who break the law but augmenting the federal effort to the tune of $110 million a year to keep us safe.

It’s time for Washington to get serious about national defense. Calls to secure the border can no longer be demagogued as mere racist rants. The drug violence has elevated the issue to a dangerous and expensive threat.