Our border with Mexico is still far from secure

by Lou Dobbs, CNN, June 17, 2004

Senator McCain and Congressman Kolbe admit the real numbers

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Lou Dobbs (CNN): ... today, indicating that our border with Mexico is still far from secure, nearly 3 years after the September 11th attacks,

The border, it turns out, is not only porous, but it has turned increasingly dangerous - more so than ever, where illegal aliens, desperate to enter this country.

Even so, they're still finding ways to cross the border, almost unimpeded, and they are doing so in staggering numbers. Peter Viles reports:

Peter Viles (CNN): [Video clip: Senate heard testimony today on our borders with Mexico]

For the second time this week, Congress heard troubling testimony portraying a porous and dangerous border with Mexico. Earlier in the week, testimony indicated that Border Patrol agents' hands are tied by bureaucratic policy. Today a portrait of a border deadlier than ever before, for illegal aliens desperate to work in the United States. Fifty-one deaths so far this year, along just the Arizona border.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ): We've increased the violence, we've increased the danger, and as a result you have now many more people dying, and sadly, they're mostly women and children, because the males don't go back home to Mexico or Honduras; they stay in the United States and they try to bring their families up there.

Peter Viles (CNN): Also, troubling, this exchange indicating illegal traffic across the border may be much higher than the estimate of one million illegal aliens per year into the United States. It began when Congressman Kolbe said that 155,000 people were apprehended along the Arizona border in the first three months of this year [2004].

Peter Viles (CNN): "Congressman Kolbe said that 155,000 people had been apprehended along the Arizona border in the first three months of this year."

Rep. Kolbe (to Senator McCain, R-AZ): "That's about right, sir."

Sen. McCain: And they figure about one out of four or five are apprehended?"

Rep. Kolbe: "Uh, that's probably about right."

Sen. McCain: "So, if you extrapolate those numbers, say 150,000 times four, that would be about 650,000 people attempting or succeeding in crossing in just a three month period. 600,000 in the first three months times four - that would be 2,400,000 people in one year."

Peter Viles (CNN): And that bit of math covers only the Arizona border with Mexico.

McCain and Kolbe agreed it will take comprehensive immigration reform to stop this problem, but most observers agree that is not going to happen in this election year.

Lou Dobbs: Listening to Congressman Kolbe, Pete, and Senator McCain, in all due respect, they are both from Arizona and surely they are not simply now awakening to the numbers - the staggering numbers of people crossing our borders.

Peter Viles: No. For some time both have supported legislation that would increase efforts at the border, would give Homeland Security more technology and better coordination at the border; I think part of the problem ...

Lou Dobbs: Then how about simply putting the Border Patrol agents who are risking their lives day in and day out on the job and give them the authority to stop illegal aliens?

Peter Viles: It's a good point; Lisa Silvester raised it earlier in the week and it's something that congress has not acted forcefully enough on to make Homeland Security respond.

Lou Dobbs: Forcefully enough, Pete?

Peter Viles: It hasn't happened.

Lou Dobbs: They haven't acted at all. This is just astounding.

Lou Dobbs: Well, Mexican President Vicente Fox is in this country again and he is fighting for the rights of Mexican citizens who live here. During a two-day stop in Chicago, President Fox promised to work with the United States to make it easier for Mexican workers to get work visas and permanent legal status in the United States. But President Fox didn't stop there in his push for Mexican rights - Tuesday President Fox asked his congress to grant Mexicans living in the United States the right to vote in Mexican elections.

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