Barack Obama’s 2007 Border Protection Paper

One of the purposes of the United States’ border policy is to protect the citizens of
this great country from non-citizens who intend to harm or acts of violence against those within its borders. The main goal of this policy is to know, at all times, who is inside the massive national borders that stretch all the way from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, covering thousands of miles of land. About one million immigrants arrive in the United States legally every year. Yet every year there are also an estimated 800,000 people who enter this country illegally, or illegally overstay their visa (“Immigration and the Border” par. 4). This means that nearly one out of every two immigrants that are in the United States is here illegally. There is basically no record of where they are and what they doing here. This could potentially have a tremendously negative effect on what the United States is so proudly known for: a strong economy, a safe home for its citizens, fair and equal employment, and a free people. With so many illegal aliens within our borders, it is unclear how safe the American people really are since it is unclear what these alien’s intentions are in the United States. The United States currently has a very poor immigration policy that is in desperate need of a change. Particularly, The United States needs to reform its border protection policy under the plan of presidential candidate Barck Obama in order to create safer borders for its citizens.

There are many problems with how the United States is currently protecting its borders. One major problem is a very poor surveillance system along its boundary line, especially along the southern border. A critical network of cameras and sensors installed for the U.S. Border Patrol along the Mexican and Canadian borders has been hobbled for years by defective equipment that was poorly installed (“GSA sees problems in border monitors” par. 1). This is a huge problem which United States officials call crucial to defending the country against terrorist infiltrators, which are often illegal aliens (“GSA sees problems in border monitors” par. 2). As part of a sweeping intelligence bill passed in December (2005), Congress suggested to nearly double the size of the Border Patrol by adding 10,000 agents over five years. The agency has about 11,000 agents; 90% work along the southern border with Mexico (“2,000 new border agents aren’t part of the budget, Ridge says” par. 3). But without the proper surveillance, is becomes extremely difficult, no matter how many border agents there are, to monitor the almost 2,000 miles of United States-Mexican border. This does not include the almost 2,000 miles of coastal borders and 4,000 miles of Canadian borders, which also have similar, yet less troublesome, surveillance issues. There is simply too much land to cover by manpower alone. The United States Customs and Border Protection Agency is in desperate need of new technology and more patrol agents.

President George Bush’s administration announced a plan to reform current immigration and border policies on August 10, 2007. His administration made known their plan to have a series of reforms to address current immigration and border problems, such as the abundance of illegal aliens in the United States. One of President Bush’s plans in the announcement was to add 370 miles of fencing to the currently 86 miles along the borders of the United States (“Comprehensive Immigration Reform” par 3). This is simply not enough fencing to adequately protect the American citizens. In fact, adding 370 miles of fence will still leave almost 1500 miles of the United States-Mexican border unfenced, and thousands more unfenced along the United States-Canadian border. This nation cannot take the risk of having so much of the northern border unprotected by the fence. There needs to be sufficient fencing around all borders of the United States, no matter which country the border is shared with.

Another one of President Bush’s border control plans announced in August 2007 was to increase the number of border agents to 18,500 by the end of 2008 (“Comprehensive Immigration Reform” par 3. The idea of adding more border agents seems good at first, but in reality is not. Adding almost 6,000 more border agents to the current ones in about one year’s time will only give the United States 6,000 more ways to waste money. It takes a great deal of time to train border agents. Border agents undergo a rigorous application and hiring process that includes drug screenings, fitness tests, and on-the-job instruction. Rushing to interview, hire, train, and employ 6,000 agents in a year will only make things more complicated because the new border agents will not fully understand the tasks and duties of their job. President Bush’s administration should take another look at what truly needs to be done to protect the American people. Since their August 2007 announcement, there have been few changes or proposals by President George Bush for the reform of current immigration and border policies. In fact, President Bush’s primary website, www.whitehouse.gov, has not seen an update in the immigration portion since the day he announced a plan for amending the current border control situation. There needs to be a change in the leadership of our country. Barack Obama is the man that will steer the United States back on the right track of a safe home for all its citizens.

In an online article published by Senator Christopher Bond on October 18, 2001, he writes, “While nine of the 19 suspected (September 11th) terrorists apparently came to this country legally, three others stayed here beyond their visa deadlines. Six other terrorists somehow entered this country without leaving any records behind them” (“Safer Borders” par. 2). People are getting into the United States too easily. Almost half of September 11, 2001, terrorists were illegal aliens. It seems impossible that out of 19 immigrants coming into this country, nine were here illegally. And of those nine illegal aliens, our government has no idea how six of them entered the United States. These illegal aliens later went on to deploy the largest terrorist attack ever on American soil. If the United States had a better immigration policy that included a plan for safe and protected borders, thousands of Americans might still be alive today.

Senator Barack Obama plans to run for United States President in 2008 with a primary goal of reforming the outdated and insecure immigration and border policy. The national borders are less secure than ever. More than a million illegal immigrants have slipped into the United States in the past few years, raising the total in the country to 7 million (“INS: 7 million illegal immigrants in the United States” par. 1). Illegal aliens create uneasiness in the back of American’s minds after the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. This is because American people wonder why, exactly, are immigrants here illegally in the first place. Besides the law-abiding aliens that simply overstay their visa, why exactly would one want to enter this country illegally if one was only here for perfectly legal actions? It is this feeling of being unsure that worries Americans. Barack Obama is exactly what the American people need right now. He is a strong leader with a plan in mind to secure our national borders and prevent an unsafe country. His plan includes adding additional personnel, infrastructure, and technology on the border, as well as having additional Customs and Border Protection agents equipped with better technology and real-time intelligence (“Immigration and the Border” par. 2). His plan will restore the United States to the safe and secure nation it once was.

In a speech given by Barack Obama to the Senate on May 23, 2007, he says, “To fix the (immigration) system in a way that does not require us to revisit the same problem in twenty years, I continue to believe that we need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace.” (“Senator Obama’s Senate Speech on the Immigration Reform Bill” par. 8). Barack Obama’s plan for improvement along the border is one that will be long-term and beneficial for many years to come. As mentioned, he does not want to visit the same immigration and border control problems twenty years from now. Hiring and putting to work 6,000 border control agents in one year is exactly the type of situation Barack Obama is trying to avoid. If the United States does attempt to interview, hire, train, and employ 6,000 border control agents in that time as President Bush wants, they can expect to be revisiting the same border problems many years down the line because the employees will not be adequately trained or have enough field experience to understand how to fully protect the borders. Barack Obama knows that rushing to get border control situation fixed is not the best way to do things. Fixing major problems like border protection takes time. He knows that using careful planning and strategic ideas in regards to the border will give the citizens of the United States what they want and need: stronger national security. In fact, increasing enforcement along the border is just one of Barack Obama’s many ways of improving national security.

Another way Barack Obama is going to improve national security is by adding additional infrastructure along the borders of the United States. He plans to add additional fencing along the nation’s boundaries, but in a way that suffices the immediate needs of the American people, unlike President Bush’s plan. One of Barack Obama’s key plans to improve border control, if elected president, is to take immediate action on the United State’s first line of defense: its protective fencing. While in the Senate, he voted to construct a 700-mile fence along the United States-Mexican border and continues to suggest more fencing along other areas. Barack Obama understands that fencing is the first line of offense against any unwanted illegal aliens that could possibly want to enter the United States and cause harm to the American people. Protective fencing keeps people from simply walking across the border into this nation and doing whatever they please. It, instead, forces people to go through Customs and legally cross borders. United States Customs does not allow the transfer of guns and drugs across borders, furthermore protecting its citizens. As the single unified border agency of the United States, the Customs and Border Patrol mission is vitally important to the protection of America and the American people (“Mission” par. 2). Without adequate protective fencing, the ease of entrance into the United States notably increases.

Yet another part of presidential candidate Barack Obama’s plan to improve border safety is to increase how technology is used in protecting the United States. As mentioned previously, there are many problems with outdated technology that border patrol is using. The surveillance cameras are often defective or poorly installed. If under our current border safety practices we do not have enough agents patrolling the national borders, or long enough fencing, the only thing that could help the protect the American people from illegal intruders into the United States in technology, such as surveillance cameras and motion sensors. So what is the last line of defense? There is none. Simply put, technology is one of the greatest weapons against unwanted illegal aliens entering this country. Technology can do things human beings cannot. Such as operating twenty-four hours a day seven days a week and see in the dark during the blackness of night. Barack Obama will increase push for advancements in technology to be used by border patrol agents (“Immigration and the Border” par. 2). Under his plan, technology will be one of the primary defenses against illegal aliens. For example, surveillance cameras will inform border patrol agents of any suspicious activity and motion sensors will surface any attempts for an illegal underground border cross. However, there is much room to improve on since the current technology system is so poor and has become obsolete under President Bush.

Barack Obama has a solid plan for reforming the current border protection plan. He understands it will take time, patience, money, and support of all the American people. However, he is clear and concise about how he will improve the United State’s borders. He is a strong leader with a great plan in mind to secure our national borders and prevent an unsafe country from becoming even more dangerous. His ideas of adding additional personnel, infrastructure, and technology on the border, as well as having additional Customs and Border Protection agents equipped with better technology and real-time intelligence is precisely what needs to be done to improve on the safety of Americans. The citizens of the United States are scared about who is coming and going from their country because they know that the attack on America September 11, 2001, could have been prevented with stronger border protection policies. Since that tragic day, few things have changed. There are still almost 800,000 immigrants illegally entering this country every year. New leadership is needed. A nation as strong as the United States should not have citizens living with fear for their own safety. This is why having an uncompromising, yet personable and compassionate leader like Barack Obama will only do good things. His plan is long-term, smart, and obtainable. There are many things the current border protection policy needs to have changed. The wellbeing of the United States is at risk, and Barack Obama should be leading it to a safer, more protected society with his border protection reform plan, starting the fall of 2008.

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