Friday, October 15, 2004

More on More on the Mexican Border and Terrorists

A blog I just found, A Physicist's Perspective wrote this post on the difference between the two candidate's views on the border.

David Mobley gives some good information on the candidates' position and then states that he's unsure what has to be done. I like this. Everybody is unsure as to what has to be done. If anyone tells you they have the answer is obviously ignoring a large part of the problem.

The most common solution I hear is that we should militarize the borders. When asked how they'll pay for it, they don't have a good answer. Many of the people that want a militarized border are also for smaller government. That's tough.

We obviously can't place army divisions on the border because the cost would be astronomical. On the other hand, the thing leaks like a sieve and something has to be done.

I think Bush is on the right track and I think Kerry also said something that made some sense (we'll see if he changes his position by next week). The temporary workers permit will go a long ways to helping us keep track of the people coming in and out of the US from Mexico. The most dangerous thing about the illegal immigration is that we have no idea about who is coming in and who is coming out. The temporary worker cards gets these people into a database and takes some pressure off the border patrol.

Bush also mentioned UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicles) patrolling the border helping border patrol find not only illegal immigrants but also drug smuggling. I know the border patrol has been looking into this already and have seen some very successful demos. UAVs can patrol for up to 24 hours at a time by remote control and can use infrared cameras to identify people and vehicles. They're also quiet. They can't be heard from the ground, unlike the helicopters the border patrol uses. Upon identification, the UAV operator can phone the border patrol to bring in their helicopter and men to apprehend them. What's nice about the UAVs are that they can record the whole process from start to finish and use the tapes as evidence in court against drug smugglers. A classic defense is for a drug smuggler to hear the helicopter and jet from their truck and pretend they're an illegal when they get caught. The border patrol has no way to connect them to the truck and so the worse that happens to them is they get deported. With a tape, they wouldn't have that defense.

Another thing that has to happen is to focus on prosecuting the employers that hire illegals. Unfortunately, with the ease of creating forged documents (right CBS?) an employer who might suspect a worker to be illegal can plausibly hire the worker anyway if they show them a semi-professionally forged document. In order to hold employers completely accountable, we need to give employers an easy way to identify whether temporary worker permits or social security cards are valid. That's where biometrics come in and the only intelligent thing Kerry said about the issue. An employer, even a very small employer, can afford a simple fingerprint scanner (retinal scanner?) that could cross check with a national database of foreign nationals in the US for work. Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers should be able to be checked to see if they are valid and that the name corresponds to the number. Simple things like these could go a long way in reducing the number of illegals working in this country. Employers will have the incentive to check employees out before hiring them because it will absolve them from liability. If there are no employers for illegals, illegals won't come here to work. There will be incentive for them to go through the legal process.

Will these procedures eliminate illegal immigration? No. Can it help reduce it at a fraction of the cost of a militarized border? Absolutely. I think the candidates are on the right track, though we'll see how they will implement it after election day.