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Border Enforcement Must Be Coupled With Reforms

Author: Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow
April 11, 2011
The Arizona Republic


Washington and Arizona are locked in an intractable conflict over border security and immigration enforcement. The Obama administration has sued to block SB 1070, and the state has countersued the federal government for failing to secure the borders. But if the U.S. is going to end the poisonous stalemate over immigration, it must start with both sides coming together in Arizona.

Years of effort to reform U.S. immigration laws have failed for a single reason: The American people do not believe the federal government is serious about enforcing current laws. In response, since the collapse of the last big legislative effort in 2007, Washington has been trying as never before to persuade them that it is, at long last, quite serious.

The resources poured into border security in the past five years are without precedent. The number of Border Patrol agents has doubled, from 10,000 to more than 20,000, and they are now supported by drones, surveillance systems and fencing. Deportations of illegal immigrants have nearly doubled, from 250,000 in 2005 to almost 400,000 in each of the past two years.

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