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Opinion: Reform Needed at Border Patrol Before More Die

 

By Joe Conason
Express Milwaukee.com
Immigration reform now seems certain to pass the U.S. Senate within days, in an amended bill that could win as many as 70 votes from both parties. The results will improve the lives of millions of undocumented workers and their families—but the costs will not be negligible, including a “surge” that will rapidly double the size of the U.S. Border Patrol to 40,000 agents, along with much more fencing and surveillance technology.

Those expensive “security enhancements” were included to satisfy or silence Republican complaints about the supposedly porous border, although that theme seemed to be more an excuse to oppose reform than a true issue. In fact, illegal border crossings have declined precipitously over the past few years while deportations have increased, and the number of arrests by the average Border Patrol agent has dropped from as many as 100 to only 19 annually.

So why do we need thousands of additional agents at the border? Evidently the manpower increase—along with the fencing and the high-tech surveillance gadgets that have never worked—is necessary so that legislators can proclaim their own toughness. But the consequences of swiftly bringing on such a huge influx of inexperienced personnel could prove deadly.

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